The 2011 British Open may finally be Darren Clarke's major championship breakthrough. If nothing else, he will enter his final round at Royal St. George's on Sunday with the 54-hole Open Championship lead.
Clarke finished his 1-under 69 in Saturday's third round with his 13th par of the day and sixth in a row, cementing his positioning at 5-under for the tournament, one stroke ahead of Dustin Johnson. Clarke was steady throughout Saturday, but especially late: after two birdies and two bogeys in his first eight holes, Clarke made nine pars and one birdie over his final 10 holes.
Clarke has been close before in majors. In a span of 17 majors between 1997 and 2001, Clarke accumulated all six of his top-10 finishes, including ties for second and third at the 1997 and 2001 British Opens, respectively.
If Clarke holds on, he'll be the second consecutive major champion to hail from Northern Ireland, following 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.
Clarke's also the only player with three rounds under par this week at Royal St. George's. But he will be pursued by Johnson and Rickie Fowler, the only other players to post red numbers in the third round.
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