Northern Irishman 1-putts his way to 8-under 64 and 2-stroke victory at Mitsubishi Electric Championship, his 2nd straight title
Darren Clarke showed no signs of rust in his return to the Champions Tour for the 50-and-older circuit’s season opener. Clarke shot 8-under 64 on Saturday to complete a 21-under 195 total and win the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii. It was the second consecutive victory on the Champions Tour for Northern Ireland’s Clarke, 52, who won the TimberTech Championship on Nov. 1 in his most recent start.
In those two events, Clarke shot a combined 38 under par for 108 holes and has won twice in 41 starts on the senior tour. He won three times in 169 starts on the PGA Tour, notably the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George’s, where he held off co-runners-up Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Clarke won 11 other titles on the European Tour.
Clarke displayed a phenomenal putting touch on the back nine Saturday
at Hualalai Golf Course on the island of Hawaii, where he one-putted six of his final eight holes, including a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 17 that essentially sealed the victory. He made birdies on Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 14 before a momentum-maintaining 10-foot par putt on the 15th. He followed with birdies at the 16th and the bomb at the 17th.
Clarke is the third player since August to win in consecutive starts on the tour, after Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.
"Just to win, to get in the winners and to win again is certainly very gratifying," Clarke said. "I love the Champions Tour. The guys have been so good to me out here since I've been out here, so welcoming. And the standard is so high, just it's incredible. The guys really flat out can play. I've been fortunate these past couple tournaments."
Clarke finished at 21-under 195 at Hualalai Golf Course, two strokes ahead of South Africa’s Retief Goosen, who also closed with a 64. American Jerry Kelly, who shared the 36-hole lead with Clarke at 13 under, closed with 68 to place third at 17-under 199 (scores).
"I sort of broke through in Boca, as you know,” said Clarke, referring to the TimberTech event and his breakthrough victory in his 40th start on the senior tour, “and I sort of liked the feeling of that.”
Though the tournament was the first of 2021 on the Champions Tour, the season continues from 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic that halted competition for four months.
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