Clarke's victory fails to unseat Montgomerie

 

A course record equalling 63 yesterday lifted Darren Clarke to a stunning Volvo Masters triumph in Spain. The Irish golfer, who finished with a 17 under par total, came from three shots behind at the start of the last day, to win by two from Scotland's Andrew Coltart.

But Clarke could not deny Colin Montgomerie claiming a remarkable sixth straight order of merit title win after his 14 under par third place result.

Clarke, who needed to clinch victory in Spain to keep alive his faint hopes of clinching order of merit glory, did just that with an amazing display around the Montecastillo course.

"I'm delighted to have won again," said Clarke.

Clarke's win, his second of the season, earned him the first prize cheque of £166,000 and leapfrogged him into second place on the final Volvo ranking standing with £902,867, just over £90,000 short of Montgomerie's winning margin.

"I've won the tournament but unfortunately I haven't won the order of merit, but well done to Monty. That's why he's Europe's best.

"But I'm delighted with my effort and it was very gratifying to play well under the circumstances."

Clarke began his round in great style, birdie-ing four of the first five holes before grabbing an eagle at the ninth to finish with an outward nine of 30. He then stormed to the lead with a fifth birdie at the par three 11th and added further birdies at 16 and then sank a seven foot putt at the last for his total of 63.

Lee Westwood, who also knew he needed to win the season's final event, if he wanted to snatch the order of merit title from Monty, looked very dejected following his poor last-round display.

The young English golfer self-destructed out of the tournament when he took a quadruple bogey at the par three 14th.

"I just played poorly and struggled all day and my chances were well gone by the 14," said Westwood.

Clarke afterwards singled out caddy Billy Foster for special praise, indicating his involvement in the victory.

"Billy kept me on the right track all day and I owe so much to him," said Clarke.

"There were some flags out there today where I wanted to go but Billy said to me just play safe and try and land the ball six or seven feet to the left or right instead of going at them.

"That's a further indication how my game is maturing.

"But overall this win is a great boost to my confidence. Finishing second in the Order of Merit, and also pipping Lee, well that's good. So I am improving with each year."