Irish eyes were smiling once again for Darren Clarke when he claimed an
emotional victory with a heroic final-hole birdie at the BMW Asian Open last
The Ulsterman drained a 30-foot putt on the 18th hole to beat a gallant
Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands by one shot and end his three-year
title drought at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.
Clarke celebrates after holing his winning putt on the 18th green at the BMW
Asian Open held at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club, China, Sunday,
April 27, 2008.
It marked a welcome return to the winner’s circle for Clarke, who has
endured a difficult past few years following the death of his wife Heather
through cancer in 2006 and a dip in form.
Clarke carded a final round of one-over-par 73 in tough conditions for an
eight-under-par 280 aggregate to secure his 11th career victory on the
European Tour and his first since the 2005 Taiheiyo Masters in Japan.
Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang holed a 25-foot birdie on the 18th for a 72 to
earn a share of third place, three behind the winner as he finished as the
top Asian in the US$2.3 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European
Tour and China Golf Association.
“This one is very special,” said a jubilant Clarke. “This is the toughest
one of all of them and it’s nice to get back up to where I feel my golf
should be. It’s nice to win again and it’s a really, really good feeling.”
In what was his maiden visit to China, Clarke, the third round leader,
dropped a bogey on the third before recovering with birdies on the fifth and
10th to stay in front of playing partner Derksen.
But three bogeys over a four-hole stretch from the 14th opened the door for
Derksen but Clarke had the final say and holed his winning putt which looked
as if he had help from the golfing gods.
“Sometimes things are meant to happen, sometimes not. I guess today was my
day,” said Clarke, who pocketed US$383,330.
“I was thinking of getting it to the hole (on the 18th) and I wasn’t going
to lag it up. I putted nicely this week, and wanted to give myself a chance
on the last and I hit a solid putt. It was tracking six foot out and
sometimes it’s meant to go in. My boys Tyrone and Conner would have liked
that putt more than I did.”
Derksen fought bravely, coming back from being two shots behind with four
holes remaining to draw level with some solid putting. But he could only
watch in amazement when Clarke rammed home his final putt in front of a
“Darren holed a good putt and today is his day, his luck I guess,” said
Derksen, who was chasing a third career victory.
“I was actually quite lucky to draw level after 17. My up and down (for par)
on 18 was very good and I don’t make that quite often as it was a very
difficult chip. You always think that it (Clarke’s putt) can go in. I saw
the speed and if it goes by, it’ll be four foot past but it went in, end of
story,” added the Dutchman
Derksen fell victim to the par three 14th once again, dropping a costly
double bogey after sending a chip into the water to fall two behind. But it
wasn’t smooth sailing for Clarke as he stuttered home which kept Derksen in
the title race.
“I had a bad lie on 14 and it was a difficult shot. I just hit it and made
five in the end. It’s not been my best hole. It was a great match though.
He’s a great winner,” said Derksen.