Darren Clarke rallies for sudden death Sanford International victory


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Darren Clarke began the 18th hole knowing he was trailing both Steve Flesch and K.J. Choi.

“I’m trying to do the best that I can do and I was trying to birdie the last and try to get to 12 under par. The last time I had looked they were both at 12 under and I was trying to get to join them and take my chances from there,” 2021 Sanford International Champion Darren Clarke said.

Clarke battled through windy conditions to post a 5 under 65, tied for the low round of the day as he finished at 12 under par overall.

“I’m really enjoying the challenge of being out here. I want to play on a Sunday afternoon where every shot on the back nine makes a difference and every shot matters and the only way that happens is when you’re in contention,” Clarke said.

Flesch bogeyed 18, and Choi parred the final hole as they also finished at 12 under par.

{NAT POP “For the first time in tournament history, after 54 holes, we have a tie at the Sanford International,” Travis Fossing said.}

So the three went to a sudden death playoff. By the second playoff hole, it was just Clarke and Choi left, and Darren had a familiar lie for his second shot.

“In regulation, playing the 72nd hole in regulation, I drove where I drove it the second time and I thought, well, if I chip it, I could spin it and check it into the slope, but don’t leave it down here. I left it down there and then holed it. On the second time around I thought, well, I know the speed now, but the ball just went right. The third time around I was just that stubborn that I was going to prove to myself that I could hit it the right distance, and I did,” Clarke said.

Clarke would finish off the tournament with a birdie on the second playoff hole, to take home the Sanford International Trophy for the first time.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Sioux Falls, the fans have been brilliant. I’ve had maybe a beverage or two with some of them in the past. So it’s been nice, anytime we can get that atmosphere and support it’s wonderful,” Clarke said.

In Sioux Falls, Sean Bower, KELOLAND Sports.

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