Darren Clarke joins a select group to win both Open Championships – photo Getty Images
New Zealand’s Steve Alker has finished 3rd two shots behind the winner, Darren Clarke, at the Senior Open Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Alker finished with a final round of even par but, on a day disrupted for over two hours by rain, Alker will rue a putter which deserted him in his time of need.
A three putt from lengthy range for par at the last typified a day in which plenty of chances went begging for the 50-year-old but it was yet another fine finish at this level, adding to the two wins, two runner-up finishes and three thirds he already had to his name on the Champions Tour this season.
Alker will move even further clear of Steve Stricker on the Charl Schwab standings, Stricker not playing in this week’s event. But the three putt at the last proved costly as instead of finishing in a two way share of the runner-up place, he found himself in a six way tie for third, the par at the last effectively costing him around US$100,000.
His lead in the Charl Schwab standings however will now extend to nearly US$915,000 over second placed Stricker.
For Clarke, however, he becomes just the 4th player to win the Open and Senior Open Championships, joining the likes of Sir Bob Charles, Gary Player and Tom Watson in doing so.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wanted to win this more than anything,” said a delighted Clarke.
“From when I turned 50, this is the one you wanted to win, so I could set it beside the other one. Pretty good feeling right now.
“Very privileged to get my name on The Open trophy and the Claret Jug, and now to get my name on this one as well and go beside some legends of the game. I feel very humbled and very honoured.
“Not that many people have done it before. And last week, I was very fortunate to spend a little bit of time with my old coach, Pete Cowen, as well on the range at St Andrews.
“Last week didn’t quite go so well. He was trying to get me to do a couple of things and didn’t quite work in. You know, he helped me win the main Open, as well as Ewan, and he’s helped me win this one, too. He just got me with a more simple swing thought and I was able to get out of my own way and I was able to do it. To join that illustrious company is very special.
“This [the trophy] doesn’t hold as much (laughter) but I’ll have a few celebratory drinks tonight. As I said, to win the tournament I always wanted to win, The Open Championship, and then to win this one as a senior, this is the one I wanted to win more than anything. I feel.
“Very fortunate to have been able to have done it. Fulfilling your dreams is a very lucky thing, and I’ve been able to do it a few times in my career.”
Of the other Australasians in the field Stuart Appleby finished 19th after a final round of 74, Peter O’Malley did well to finish 20th, Richard Green was 41st, John Senden 47th and Michael Campbell 66th.