Darren Clarke makes his first cut in 18 tournaments

Former Open winner has failed to make the weekend of a tournament in 18 months

Darren Clarke on the 18th green during the second round of the Maybank Championship Malaysia at Saujana Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Darren Clarke on the 18th green during the second round of the Maybank Championship Malaysia at Saujana Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

 

Former British Open champion and Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke ended a run of 17 missed cuts in a row in dramatic fashion at the Maybank Malaysia Championship on the European Tour when he birdied the final hole to squeeze into the weekend.

It’s a step in the right direction for the 49-year-old who has struggled dreadfully with his game in recent times, failing to make the weekend at any tournament around the world since the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Clarke, 49, carded four birdies and no bogeys to be tied for 63rd place on four under, with the particularly pleasing part of the round coming at the final hole.

Needing a birdie to have a chance of making the cut the Dungannon man was over the back of the green in two at the Par 5 from where his third shot came up 15 feet short. However, he managed to roll his birdie putt into the centre of the cup and end the barren run that spanned 18 months.

Meanwhile, more than two decades after his first victory at Saujana Golf & Country Club, Lee Westwood stormed into contention for his second with a brilliant 62.

Westwood, who struggled to an opening 72, fired 11 birdies and a solitary bogey to reach halfway at 10 under par, a shot behind joint leaders Nino Bertasio and Phachara Khongwatmai.

The former world number one won the Malaysian Open at Saujana in 1997 but has not tasted victory since 2015 and is currently not exempt for the Masters, an event where he finished second in 2010 and 2016.

“It was enjoyable, there were a lot of birdies going in out there,” the 44-year-old said. “It’s nice to be in contention and to know this golf course well. I was touring pro for this course, so I’ve probably played it more than most and I know where to hit it.

“I hit it close a lot and it was a pretty pain-free round. Gave myself a lot of birdie chances, so it was a really good ball-striking round and I holed out well as well. I was pleased with the way today went and hopefully we can build on that more.

“I played all right the first three weeks of the year. I missed the first two cuts but I sort of got in my own way mentally, not sure the reason for that but today I just freewheeled really and had fun out there.”

Bertasio and 18-year-old Thai prospect Khongwatmai both shot 65 to set the pace on 11 under, with Westwood joined on 10 under by first-round leader Chris Paisley, Yuta Ikeda and Scotland’s Marc Warren.

Warren was among the players forced to finish their first rounds on Friday after Thursday’s weather delay and completed a 68 before adding a second round of 66.

“I’m really pleased overall,” Warren said. “On this golf course if you only have one bogey (in two days) your game is going to be pretty solid and I feel every aspect is pretty good, so looking forward to the weekend.”

The halfway cut fell at four under par and means the remaining 81-strong field is separated by just seven shots, with 50 players within five of the lead.

Collated second round scores in the Maybank Championship, Saujana G & CC, Malaysia (Britain unless stated, irish in bold par 72):

133 Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 68 65, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 68 65

134 Marc Warren 68 66, Yuta Ikeda (Jap) 70 64, Chris Paisley 65 69, Lee Westwood 72 62

135 Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 69 66, Stephen Gallacher 70 65, David Lipsky (Usa) 67 68, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 69 66, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 69 66, Hideto Tanihara (Jap) 71 64, Daisuke Kataoka (Jap) 68 67

136 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 69 67, David Horsey 66 70, Ryan Fox (Nz) 68 68, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 71 65, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 69 67, Robert Karlsson (Swe) 68 68, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 68 68, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) 71 65, Thomas Detry (Bel) 68 68, Danthai Boonma (Tha) 70 66, Soomin Lee (Kor) 67 69

137 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 66 71, Shiv Kapur (Ind) 70 67, Shih-Chang Chan (Tai) 68 69, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 70 67, Khalin Joshi (Ind) 67 70, Berry Henson (Usa) 69 68, Scott Jamieson 68 69, Alexander Levy (Fra) 67 70, Andy Sullivan 71 66, Fabrizio Zanotti (Py) 68 69, Antonio Lascuna (Phi) 69 68, Gavin Green (Mal) 68 69

138 Andrew Johnston 67 71, Javier Colomo (Spa) 71 67, Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha) 72 66, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 70 68, Michael Tran (Ven) 73 65, Simon Yates 72 66, Juvic Pagunsan (Ph) 68 70, Arjun Atwal (Ind) 67 71, Amir Nazrin (Ind) 70 68, Chris Hanson 68 70, Jordan Smith 70 68, Eddie Pepperell 69 69, Yusaku Miyazato (Jap) 71 67, Jyoti Randhawa (Ind) 67 71

139 Ben Leong (Mal) 69 70, Richie Ramsay 71 68, Matthew Southgate 73 66, Paul Peterson (Usa) 69 70, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 70 69, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 68 71, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 69 70, Keith Horne (Rsa) 71 68, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 68 71, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 69 70, Scott Vincent (Zim) 71 68, Henrik Stenson (Se) 72 67

140 Sihwan Kim (Kor) 71 69, Joost Luiten (Net) 72 68, Carlos Pigem (Spa) 69 71, Graeme Storm 72 68, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 70 70, Prom Meesawat (Tha) 74 66, Nicholas Fung (Mal) 71 69, Austin Connelly (Can) 71 69, Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 69 71, S.S.P Chawrasia (Ind) 69 71, Rattanon Wannasrichan (Tha) 70 70, Daniel Im (Usa) 69 71, Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 70 70, Darren Clarke 72 68, Jason Norris (Aus) 71 69, Ryo Ishikawa (Jap) 74 66, Marcel Siem (Ger) 69 71, Romain Wattel (Fra) 67 73, Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 70 70

The following players missed the cut:

141 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 72 69, Bowen Xiao (Chn) 68 73, Adilson Da Silva (Br) 69 72, Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 70 71, Natipong Srithong (Tha) 74 67, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 71 70, Miguel Tabuena (Phi) 69 72, Jarin Todd (Usa) 72 69, Scott Hend (Aus) 75 66, Chien-Yao Hung (Tw) 70 71, Johannes Veerman (Usa) 71 70

142 Alexander Bjork (Swe) 71 71, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 72 70, Wen-chong Liang (Chn) 70 72, Lee Slattery 72 70, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (Tha) 68 74, Micah Lauren Shin (Usa) 71 71, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 73 69, Arnond Vongvanij (Tha) 72 70, Casey O’Toole (Usa) 70 72, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 69 73, Young-Han Song (Kor) 73 69, Poom Saksansin (Tha) 74 68, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71 71

143 Terry Pilkadaris (Aus) 72 71, Wei-Chih Lu (Tha) 70 73, Mohammad Wafiyuddin (Mal) 69 74, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 73 70, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 72 71, Jbe Kruger (Rsa) 71 72, Sukree Othman (Mal) 74 69, Quincy Quek (Sg) 73 70, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 72 71

144 Shaun Norris (Rsa) 72 72, Jake Higginbottom (Aus) 75 69, Danny Willett 74 70, Renato Paratore (Ita) 72 72, Todd Sinnott (Aus) 70 74, Robert Rock 72 72, Rashid Khan (Ind) 72 72, S Chikkarangappa (Ind) 74 70, Danny Chia (Mal) 73 71, Rory Hie (Ind) 75 69

145 Arie Ahmad Irawan (Mal) 73 72, Paul Waring 73 72, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 73 72, Richard T Lee (Can) 74 71, Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind) 74 71, Haotong Li (Chn) 74 71, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha) 72 73, Nacho Elvira (Spa) 73 72

146 Rahil Gangjee (Ind) 73 73, Niang Niang Lin (Mm) 74 72, Angelo Que (Phi) 73 73, Sam Brazel (Aus) 70 76, Oliver Fisher 73 73, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 73 73

147 M Sasidaran (Mal) 72 75, Matt Wallace 74 73, Siddikur Rahman (Ban) 71 76, (a) Yuxin Lin (Chn) 72 75, Chiragh Kumar (Ind) 75 72, Justin Quiban (Phi) 71 76

148 Kemarol Baharin (Mal) 71 77, Yi-Keun Chang (Kor) 75 73, R Nachimuthu (Mal) 73 75

149 Gi-Whan Kim (Kor) 73 76

151 (a) Galven Green (Mal) 79 72, Lionel Weber (Fra) 75 76, Airil-Rizman Zahari (Mal) 76 75

152 Kheng hwai Khor (Mal) 75 77

153 Shahriffuddin Ariffin (Mal) 75 78, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 78 75

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