Clarke Breaks 70 First Occasion In 22 Months In MENA’s Dubai Open.

Darren Clarke has again travelled some 8,000 klms to break 70 for a first time in nearly two years in the MENA Tour’s Dubai Open.

Clarke, as patron of the Middle East and Northern Africa Tour, birdied his closing two holes in a three-under par 68 on the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club course that is a prior host to the Dubai Desert Classic.

The effort is the first occasion since November 2015 Clarke has broken 70 and that was in his maiden MENA Tour showing in sharing second at the RAK Classic also in the UAE.

Dubai-based South African M G Keyser sets a new course record of 61 on day one of the MENA Tour’s Dubai Open. (Photo – MENA Tour)

Defending Dubai Open champ, Rayhan Thomas played alongside Clarke in shooting a 70 and was full of praise for the former European Ryder Cup Captain.

“It was fun playing with Darren. He is such a great guy. He really hit the ball well, but just couldn’t hole anything,” he said.

Clarke is no stranger to playing well on the Dubai Creek course having grabbed some years back a share of the course record of 63.

However, that effort was lowered by two shots with Dubai resident M G Keyser setting a new course record of a 10-under par 61.

South African Keyser caught fire after making the turn at two under, reeling off six birdies and an eagle in a stunning display of golf that left the field marvelling in awe at his appetite for action.

His sparkling career-best effort left Clarke’s other playing partner Fredrik From of Sweden and England’s Stuart Archibald three shots adrift in a share of second on a day when a raft of red-figure rounds marked the opening day’s proceedings despite hot and humid conditions.

MEANTIME —-

Clarke is confident Rory McIlroy will bounce back in the New Year and a frustrating injury-interrupted season.

McIlroy has just two events, maybe three if he qualifies for next week’s Tour Championship, to keep alive an unbroken run since 2008 of having won at least one event a season.

And after missing the cut in last fortnight’s Dell Technologies near Boston McIlroy has fallen to World No. 6.

But despite Clarke’s own downturn in not having won since capturing the 2011 Open Championship he’s quietly-confident his fellow Ulsterman will return to his Major winning ways.

“It’s been difficult for Rory because he got injured in the first tournament of the year and he’s been trying to play through injury that’s niggling away, it restricts you,” said Clarke.

“It’s a difficult thing. It never gave him any chance to get any real momentum this year and momentum is huge whenever you’re up at that standard of golf. And Rory tried so hard. But Rory’s the most talented player in the world, so he’ll be fine.”

He added: “He just needs to get rid of that injury, and I know he’s got a great man there in Steve McGregor (Fitness Trainer) and he’ll go see all the right people and put that injury to bed and get himself right.

“And when he does he’ll hopefully come out firing.”



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