Darren Clarke shot a best of the week 68 in the third and final round of the Misubishi Electric Classic at TPC Sugarloaf to climb 18 spots on the leaderboard to a tie for 24th as Stephen Ames cruised to victory.
Starting on the back nine, Clarke carded birdies at the 12th and 18th, with a bogey at 17 the only blemish as he’d make the turn at -1.
He’d pick up three more strokes on the front side with birdies coming at the first, third and eighth holes to sign for a round of -4, moving him to -5 for the week.
Ames began the day with a three-stroke lead over Ken Tanigawa after posting 65 and 64 in rounds one and two respectively, making just one bogey in the process. Though he’d not quite reproduce the incredibly low scoring of the previous two days, he’d go bogey-free through 17 holes in the closing round, taking a five-stroke lead to the last.
Despite driving it into the hazard, he’d recover to hole a thirty-footer for par to keep a blemish off his card and sign off on a four stroke victory over Miguel Angel Jiménez in second at -15, with Tanigawa two-strokes further back on -13.
Speaking after the second round, Ames spoke of how he’d learned to be calm and assured over the ball, and he expanded on that in his post-win press conference.
“It’s something I’ve been working with with my psychologist since 2004,” he said, “and it’s only now kind of rubbing in. I think overall it’s just realizing how important the mindset is and how important the focus part of it is when I’m playing golf. I tend to be very technical in my golf swing and after — in the last year and a half I’ve let that go quite a bit and funny enough, in letting that go, my swing has actually gotten better because I’ve gotten quieter mentally.
“So I think overall the golf swing is good enough to win out here, obviously with the way I played this week was an example of it, but fact that I was extremely quiet and very calm playing the whole week was even more extraordinary for me.”
It was a family affair for Ames with his son on the bag and a learning experience for the younger Ames who’s trying to make his own way in the pro ranks.
“He’s trying to play now professionally himself,” Ames said, “so actually it was kind of nice actually. Different for me, going through each shot and what my thoughts were and stuff like that, and the things that we needed to work on and stuff like that. I think this week overall, I think the fact that I ended up winning as well, it kind of adds icing on the cake.”
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