Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clarke Contending and Second-Guessing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clarke Contending and Second-Guessing

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union sports writer

Darren Clarke isn't a morning person, and that quirk might end up costing him a chance to win The Players Championship.

When darkness suspended Friday's second round, players had the option of resuming play the next morning or finishing on the spot. Clarke chose the latter, deciding to tackle the treacherous final two holes of the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course despite poor visibility.

"I didn't fancy getting up at 6 o'clock in the morning," the Northern Ireland native said.

The result was disastrous: Clarke bogeyed both holes to turn a potentially outstanding round into a mere 2-under 70 that left him 3 under for the tournament.

And that decision loomed even more fateful yesterday after Clarke carded seven birdies on the way to a 5-under 67 that tied him for sixth place heading into today's final round.

If Clarke had merely shot par on those final two second-round holes Friday, he would be just one shot off the lead of Jay Haas and Padraig Harrington today.

Ouch.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing," said Clarke, 34, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2000 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships.

"I chose to play on, and I made a mistake."

Clarke at least could take comfort in not being the only international player to make a mistake this weekend. Aside from Ireland's Harrington and defending champion Craig Perks of New Zealand, who is in third place, The Players' foreign contingent generally did not fare well yesterday.

Canada's Mike Weir, Justin Rose of England, Australia's Peter Lonard and Niclas Fasth of Sweden each finished below par to stay in the top 25 through three rounds. But Australia's Adam Scott followed consecutive rounds of 3-under 69 with a meltdown yesterday. Scott carded a 2-over 74 to tumble out of the top 20 and seven strokes off the lead. …

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