Clarke ready for roaring forties

Darren Clarke believes he can become a force in his forties after storming into contention for the Africa Open.

The Ulsterman, who turned 40 in August, blasted a seven under par 65 in the Sunshine Tour event to lurk just two shots behind Argentina's Angel Cabrera with Michael Hoey just six off the pace after his second 68 on the trot.

Alone in second place on 12-under par, Clarke called his nomination this week on the World Golf Hall of Fame ballot one of the few positives associated with reaching the big 4-0.

He said: "It's an honour I was definitely not expecting. That's not to say I'll be automatically included because a lot of people have to vote, but just to be among the international section's nominees is something I am very proud of.

"Nobody is eligible until they have reached the age of 40 so at least this has been one bonus on reaching the milestone.

"But as I've said before, I still feel my best years are ahead of me and I am doing everything I possibly can to prove it."

Ranked 73rd in the world, Clarke is aiming to make the top 50 by April so he can qualify for the Masters.

And he confessed that he got the luck of the draw at East London Golf Club as he racked up eight birdies and just one bogey before the weather turned for the afternoon starters.

He said: “I got a huge break obviously with the weather. We get good draws and we get bad draws, and I’ve been very fortunate so far this week to get a good draw and I was able to make the most of it this morning.

“I think I hit 15 greens, 16 greens, so I had a lot of chances today and I holed a few."

Former US Open champion Cabrera followed his course record 62 by holing a 60 foot birdie putt on the last for a 68 to lead on 14-under.