Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Clarke Right at Home in Masters Mix

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Clarke Right at Home in Masters Mix

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Garrod

Darren Clarke made a superb job of trying to treat the Masters as a holiday rather than the tournament that could take his career to a new level.

While Colin Montgomerie missed the cut for the fifth event running, Clarke added a two-under 70 to his opening 72 to be one of just a handful of players in the Augusta National clubhouse under par.

Montgomerie had to wait almost five hours before discovering he was out, his fate being sealed when Tiger Woods hit his approach to the last to 10 feet. He missed the putt, though, so would go into the third round in joint 10th spot, five behind leader Chad Campbell.

After a brilliant 67, American Campbell led at six-under by three shots from compatriots Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate and overnight leader Vijay Singh.

As a blustery wind claimed Singh as one of its victims ( after two birdies in the first three holes the Fijian then double-bogeyed the next two ( Campbell set a target unlikely to be matched.

Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els were alongside Clarke after scoring 72 and 71 respectively. Also with them was Britain's David Howell and South African Tim Clark.

Padraig Harrington was one further back ( as was 54-year-old Ben Crenshaw ( while defending champion Tiger Woods mixed bogeys with birdies on his way to a 71 that put him also on one under par, well in contention.

Clarke, whose wife Heather has been battling the return of cancer for the past 18 months, birdied the down-wind 465-yard last despite his drive finishing in a divot hole.

The Ulsterman also refused to let a visit to Rae's Creek on the 13th upset his freewheeling mood yesterday.

"I am very comfortable and relaxed out there and just taking whatever the course gives me," commented Clarke, who led by three after an opening 66 three years ago, but then fell away and has still to win a major title.

"I've forgotten what I should be doing and just gone out and hit it. It's working. It's probably the most relaxed I've ever been in a major.

"I want to keep the holiday feeling for the weekend at least."

He was in the Bahamas with his wife last week and added: "Sometimes when you get completely away from the game and hardly touch the clubs it brings back what is really important. …

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