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Sunshine for Clarke

other Updated: Jul 18, 2011 00:02 IST

Darren Clarke won the 140th British Open at Royal St George's on Sunday closing with a level par 70 for a five-under par total of 275. The 42-year-old from Northern Ireland won by three strokes from Americans Dustin Johnson, who closed with a 72, and Phil Mickelson who had a 68.

Thomas Bjorn of Denmark was a stroke further back after a 71.

It was Clarke's first win in a Major and it came in his 20th British Open campaign. It follows hard on the heels of fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy's win in the US Open last month.

Strong start

Clarke was seven-under-par with four holes to go, four ahead of playing partner Johnson and Bjorn and five in front of Mickelson.

Clarke, the overnight leader, showed few nerves at the start as he mixed an early birdie at the second with a bogey at the fourth.

World number six Mickelson, who has flattered to deceive at the third major of the season with just one top-10 finish in 17 previous appearances, showed he meant business by blitzing his way to a remarkable best-of-the-tournament front nine of 30.

Ignoring 35-mph gusts, the strongest winds of the week at Royal St George's, and squally showers, Mickelson drew level with Clarke at the seventh when he rolled in a 20-foot eagle putt.

The Northern Irishman, though, hit back immediately with an eagle at the same hole after sinking a 25-footer.

Mickelson's round started to unravel when he inexplicably missed from two feet at the 11th. More dropped shots followed for the American and he slipped back to two-under through 16 holes.

Clarke carried on unperturbed, reeling off seven straight pars to remain seven-under through 14.