Darren Clarke was not too despondent despite his 73. He played well in the worst of the weather. Picture: Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieDarren Clarke refused to ask Tom Watson for putting advice but still got the US legend to sign two golf balls for his kids at the US PGA.

The Dungannon star battled his way through a rainstorm to get right in the mix on one under par at Oak Hill

But after a triple bogey seven at his 14th hole saw him crash back into the pack on two over after a 73, he didn’t miss the chance to get his hands on some history.

After playing with Watson and European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley, Clarke said: “Tom’s a legend, isn’t he? And he is a gentleman as well.

“I had a great time, Tom and Paul, it was really, really good - and I did get him to sign a couple of balls for Tyrone and Conor.”

Clarke reckons he’s playing well enough to make a move at the weekend but knows he’s going to have to shoot a couple of rounds in the 60s after his triple bogey nightmare.

He said: “I burned the edges and did everything right all day. I couldn’t have hit it much better than I did.

“I haven’t been hitting the ball that bad all season, just scoring terribly. I am not making any putts, I am just more patient that I have been recently.”

Asked if he’d asked Watson for putting advice as well as autographs, he joked: “Putting? F***k I’m having enough trouble myself.”

He added: “I played very average yesterday and shot 69 and played wonderfully today and shot 73.

“On the fifth I pulled my tee shot, laid it up, pitched it on the green and it spun it back 30 yards through the rough, into the water.

“From doing the right thing and playing beautifully all day! Everyone is going to have those problems, I just had mine on the wrong hole.”

McGinley struggled in the soggy conditions and shot a 74 to miss the cut on 12 over, two shots worse than opposite number Watson who hit a 77.

He confessed: “It was extremely tough. The golf course is black and white from the way it played in practice to how it’s playing now. It’s grown about 3000 yards. There was a bit of a spring in the fairways when we got here on Monday and Tuesday but now there’s nothing. It’s extremely long.

“Obviously the rough was very punishing. I’m just way off the pace in terms of playing a golf course like this. Still, having said that, I’ve enjoyed my week, I’ll do some work for Sky over the weekend. That’s it.

“I’d love to play more events at this level again but I’ve got to play better. My game is off the pace in these kind of conditions. I mean the golf course is too long for me, that’s the bottom line. I’m hitting 2-irons, 3-irons, 4-irons into all the par fours. There’s no roll in the ball and it’s not flying in the rain. It was tough, there’s no doubt.

“It’s not unplayable. There’s guys who are up there, particularly the long-hitters, who are playing well. It’s hard not having played in four years in an American Major and then coming in.

“It’s a very different game. It’d be a bit like the Americans not playing links for four years and then all of a sudden being thrust on Muirfield this year.”

As for his reunion with US Ryder Cup skipper Tom Watson, he said: “It was fun. We battled and both of us felt the same.

“It’s a shame it didn’t stay the way it was on Monday and Tuesday when there was a nice spring in the fairways and you could get it down there. It’s a different golf course today.”