Darren Clarke hasn’t had a top 30 finish since winning the Open. Photo Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ieDarren Clarke will be hoping for better in next week’s Nedbank Challenge in South Africa after finishing 54th in the Australian PGA Championship on the Hyatt Regency resort course in Coolum.

The 43-year old Open champion closed with a two under 70 after teeing off in the second group of the day at 6.35am following what he described as a “brutal” performance in his third round 79. Scores

The Ulsterman finished on three over par, 15 shots outside a play-off for the title that saw Australia’s Greg Chalmers win his second Australian “major” in a row.

The left-hander closed with a five under 67 and then beat compatriots Robert Allenby (68) and Marcus Fraser (69) with a par on the first extra hole after their had tied on 12 under.

Winner of the Australian Open in Sydney two weeks ago, Chalmers will have a chance to complete the Australian “Triple Crown” at next month’s Australian Masters in Melbourne.

American Bubba Watson had a 77 to drop into a tie for 12th at 7 under.

Chalmers won after Allenby and Fraser ran into trouble off the tee in the playoff.

Fraser, the second-round leader, got into the playoff with a 50-foot birdie putt on the 18th in regulation, but strayed into a pond then a bunker in the playoff, while Robert Allenby drove into the rough and went on to miss a 10-foot par putt.

“I was surprised to see that a par was good enough, but that’s how it goes sometime in a playoff,” Chalmers said.

Third-round leader K.T. Kim, playing alongside Watson, shot a 76 to tie for sixth, three strokes behind.

From Sun City, Clarke will complete his major winning season by teeing it up in the European Tour’s season-ending Dubai World Championship before heading to Bangkok for the Thailand Golf Championship.

Ranked 36th in the world, Clarke’s best result since winning the Open in July is a share of 35th place in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.