Emotional Clarke wins BMW Asian golf Open
A highly emotional Darren Clarke sank a huge birdie putt on the final hole to win the BMW Asian Open here Sunday, then dedicated the victory to his sons following the death of their mother in 2006.
The Northern Irishman's putt of close to 30 feet on the 18th hole gave him a one shot victory over playing partner Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands, the dpa reported.
Clarke carded a one-over 73 on Sunday to finish the tournament at eight under, while Derksen also shot a 73 following a dramatic final few holes.
Italian Francesco Molinari, Taiwan's Lin Wen-tang and English rookie Robert Dinwiddie were tied for third place at five under, with Sweden's world number 13 in outright sixth place at four under.
Clarke's victory earned him 383,000 dollars and was his first win on the European Tour since 2003.
However it meant much more to him than simply another tournament triumph as it cemented his golfing comeback following the death of his wife, Heather, of cancer in August 2006.
"Sometimes there's a black hole. It's not easy to see through," Clarke said immediately afterwards as he spoke of the deep emotional turmoil he has endured since his wife died.
In that respect, Clarke dedicated his victory to his sons.
"This win is for Tyrone and Connor," the 39-year-old said, while also thanking all his friends who had supported him over the past 20 months.
Clarke, who had been a mainstay in Europe's Ryder Cup team since 1997, had not won a tournament since his wife's death and watched his world ranking plummet to 236.
He said there were times when he was not sure whether he would be able to return to the top ranks of golf.
"There's always doubts. It's been more frustration than doubt," he said.
Clarke looked to be cruising to victory when he established a two-shot buffer over Derksen at the par three 14th hole after the Dutchman chipped into the water on his way to a double bogey.
However Clarke missed a par putt of less than two feet on the 16th, then bogeyed the 17th after driving into the trees to gift Derksen a share of the lead.
On the 18th, Derksen chipped his third shot to within two feet to be almost assured of a par. That left Clarke with his putt of nearly 30 feet to win the tournament or face going into a playoff with Derksen.
As soon as the putt went in, Clarke pumped both his arms high into the air, before triumphantly embracing his caddie.
The BMW Asian Open is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.