Clarke feeling at home in Holland

Looks like a little piece of Ireland has been transported to the Netherlands, where defending champion Darren Clarke shares the halfway lead in the KLM Dutch Open after a second round 67.

The links at Kennemer has a true Irish feel with four Irishmen in the top 10.

For a while it looked certain that Peter Lawrie would lead the way when he roared to the top on 10 under par before a bogey the seventh, his 16th, and a three-putt double bogey six at the ninth forced him to settle for a 68 that relegated him to a share of seventh place on seven-under.

Lawrie is three strokes behind Clarke and Sweden's Peter Hedblom with an improving Shane Lowry (68), an erratic Paul McGinley (70) and a steady Damien McGrane (67) in a ten-man share of eighth place on six under.

The ever improving Gareth Maybin is five behind Clarke on five under and tied for 18th after a 68 though the rest of the Irish missed the one under par cut: Jonny Caldwell by a shot after a 69, the struggling Gary Murphy by seven despite a 70 and Michael Hoey by eight after a 69. 

According to PA's Mark Garrod:

Darren Clarke describes the Kennemer course in Holland as one of his favourite venues - and he might like it even more tomorrow night.

A year after winning the KLM Open by four Clarke went into the third round today joint leader with Sweden's Peter Hedblom.

Nobody has made a successful defence of the title since American Bob Byman in 1978, but the remarkable thing about Clarke's effort is that he has not had a single top-10 finish since his victory 12 months ago.

"I'm trying to remain as patient as I can even though I'm going through a period of great frustration," said the 41-year-old from Northern Ireland.

"I've been playing OK, but throwing in a bad round and it's a lack of confidence more than anything.

"It's always nice to come back to a place where you've done well before, though."

Like last year he has his sons Tyrone and Conor to take his mind off things away from the course - and he has also started working again with Belgian sports psychologist Jos Vanstiphout.

"I'm still as excited as ever about trying to play well, I've not eased off on my workload and I'm looking for a particularly strong finish to the year," said Clarke.

Hedblom is without a top-20 finish all year and recently took himself off to a near-deserted island in Sweden to get away from golf for a while.

His back-to-back 66s have put him alongside Clarke on eight under par at halfway, but five players are only a stroke behind and 10 more just two back.