A level-par second round from Darren Clarke has left the Northern Irishman tied for 44th at the PGA Champions Tour’s Ascension Classic in Missouri, with W.E. Yang and Kevin Sutherland leading the tournament on 12-under-par.
Clarke finished his second round on two-under-par and will start his final round 10 shots off the lead at the Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis but is too far back to make a charge for the top spot barring an extraordinary final 18 holes.
Most of the action in the former Open Champions round occurred on the front nine as he began his round with two bogeys and a birdie.
He followed that with another birdie on the fifth to get back to level par for the day and he would go onto three-under for the tournament with another birdie on the eighth as he began his way back towards the clubhouse.
A bogey on the par-three 10th put the Tyrone man back to level par for the day, and although the rest of his round was solid, he was unable to make any more ground on the group ahead of him as he finished his second round as he started it.
Although it seems like there’s not a lot to play for in terms of silverware, the veteran Northern Irishman sits 15th in the Schwab Cup standings and a decent final round could help Clarke retain his solid position in the tournament rankings.
One of the clubhouse leaders, Kevin Sutherland, recorded a blemish-free second round in St. Louis to lead the tournament after two rounds – following up his opening round of a course record 64 with a 67.
After play on Saturday, the American reflected on his five-under-par showing which leaves him with a great chance of succeeding Padraig Harrington as an Ascension Classic champion.
“I’ve done a good job of managing mistakes,” explained Sutherland, “I ended up making some pars – I’ve made some good pars, especially yesterday, not so much today.
“I hit it a little better today than I did yesterday. The score wasn’t as good but I actually felt like I played a little better today. I feel good about it.
“I hit a lot of good shots at the right time, and I’m putting really well, so it’s a good combo.”
The final round of the Ascension Classic begins on Sunday afternoon Irish time at 2:45 p.m. with Darren Clarke’s round commencing at 4:46 p.m.