Darren Clarke beats Pádraig Harrington in Irish one-two at Senior British Open

Northern Irishman joins Bob Charles, Gary Player and Tom Watson as players to complete the Open double

Two of the men who were pivotal characters in Irish golf’s golden generation extended their longevity into the seniors’ circuit, with Darren Clarke — defying an injury-ravaged season — coming out on tops of an Irish one-two in the weather-hampered British Seniors Open on the Kings Course at Gleneagles in Scotland where Pádraig Harrington was runner-up.

Clarke, the 2011 Open champion, joined Bob Charles, Gary Player and Tom Watson as players to complete the double, after a final round 69 for 10-under-par total of 270 gave him a one shot winning margin over Harrington, who had closed out with a 67.

Just a month after his US Seniors Open win, Harrington made a great bid to complete the transatlantic double in overcoming a double bogey six on the ninth hole by coming home in 30 — with six birdies on the back nine — to make Clarke work extra hard for his maiden Seniors Major title.

But the 52-year-old Northern Irishman proved up to the task, coming in from the latest weather delay to finish with a birdie on the 18th — using his putter with a wizardry of old — to two-putt from 100 feet for a birdie on the last to get him over the line.


“When I won some of my biggest tournaments, The Open (in 2011), WGCs, I have a sense of calmness. I don’t know where it comes from because if I’d been able to grab a hold of it a few more times in my career, I probably would have won a few more times.

“But this week, I had that calmness again. I think it comes from being accepting, knowing that I hit some poor shots now and again. I’m not going to hole that many putts or whatever. And when you’re accepting, it’s easier just to amble along and accept the outcome,” said Clarke of his approach in claiming the title, only the second Irish golfer, joining the late Christy O’Connor Jnr, in claiming the title.

Brooke Henderson survived a rollercoaster final round and birdied the last hole to win the Amundi Evian Championship at 17-under-par 267 at Evian Resort Golf Club in France, a shot clear of American Sophia Schubert.

The 24-year-old Canadian entered the final round with a two-shot lead but struggled out of the gates, dropping a shot at her first hole and then making a four-putt double bogey on the sixth, to lose her outright lead.

However, after sinking a birdie putt on the seventh hole and then making the turn in two-over-par, Henderson fought hard on the back nine to grind out the win and earn the first prize cheque, worth US$1 million.

She bogeyed 11 but made back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 to join the leaders on 16-under-par and then made a clutch putt from 12 feet below the hole on the par-5 18th to close it out, coming home in 34 for a level par round of 71.

“After I sunk that putt, I looked at my sister, Brittany, and said: did we really do this?,” commented Henderson, who won her first major at the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and is now in her eighth season on the LPGA Tour.

“It was definitely an interesting day and not the start I wanted, but I stayed patient. I knew going into the back nine, the saying is that majors are won on the back nine on Sunday, so I tried to stay in it and make a few birdies. The birdie on 18 was really nice.

“I didn’t play my best but I kept trying to remind myself that I was still in it. I hit some good shots down the stretch. I’m super excited to have my second major championship and my 12th win on Tour.”

Stephanie Meadow finished with a 68 for a total of five-under-par 279 to finish in tied-40th while Leona Maguire closed with a 71 for 286 to finish in tied-65th.

On the DP World Tour, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay closed with a final round 69 for a total of 14-under-par 274 to claim the title, a stroke clear of England’s Paul Waring.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times