Some might say he's left it late but Darren Clarke is finding form at exactly the right time. He acknowledged earlier in the week that for Nick Faldo to hand him a wild card for the Ryder Cup, he would have to show some form in these last two tournaments. Well, one quarter of the way through those two tournaments and he's done just what he needed to do. After a very good round yesterday, where two of his dropped shots could be attributed to a flare-up in the weather conditions, Clarke had shown he was capable of a good score around the Kennemer course. Today he went out and made that score. A flawless round of 64, containing six birdies sees him atop the leaderboard, alongside England's Robert Rock and Sweden's Alexander Noren.
It's a just reward for Clarke who has overhauled his entire game of late, working hard to make adjustments to his swing which have seen his tee to green game become more impressive than ever. Unfortunately his putting has been in the doldrums and despite giving himself hatfuls of chances, he's been failing to convert them on the greens. Hopefully he will keep his touch from today and go on to really make a great case for Ryder inclusion. His 6th place finish at the Bridgestone Invitational three weeks ago was a promising sign that he was getting somewhere, a win here might prove to Nick Faldo that he's gotten there.
Robert Rock matched Clarke's score of 64 today and he is in an excellent position to give his world ranking of 354th in the world a huge boost this week. The same could be said for 148th ranked Noren who backed up yesterday's 66 with another today.
Looming ominously one shot back though is someone who doesn't need to worry much about ranking points these days. World Number 6, Henrik Stenson, carded a 65 to glide up the leaderboard. His consistency this year has been very impressive though it's taken a wee bit out of him; he's decided to take some Henrik time to recuperate over the next two weeks and be fresh for the Ryder Cup.
Justin Rose only managed a 69 today but is still well in contention in T14 on -4. He sits alongside Rolf Muntz who dropped back today with a 72, so I think I took the only chance I was gonna get to make that terrible Simpsons joke; you do have to grab these opportunities.
A brave effort by Nick Dougherty looks like it was not enough to make the cut this evening, he should miss by one shot after his 68 today. He'll be looking back at his closing hole last night ruefully, as it may have cost him his chance to be at Valhalla. It'll be good motivation for his final chance next week.
At this juncture, I'd like to apologise for any lack of impartiality in my writings about Darren Clarke. I know it's unprofessional but he has been my favourite golfer for some time and this is my blog after all. So with that said...
COME ON DARREN!!!