Darren Clarke back in contention at Ras Al Khaimah

Darren Clarke. Picture: Getty Images
Darren Clarke. Picture: Getty Images
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Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke hauled himself back into contention with a sizzling six-under 66 to lie just two shots off the pace going into the final round of the MENA Golf Tour’s Ras Al Khaimah Classic, writes Martin Dempster.

The 2011 Open champion mixed eight birdies with two bogeys to reach seven-under for the tournament as South Africa’s Thriston Lawrence backed up his opening 69 with a 66 to claim a one-shot lead at nine under over Morocco’s Faycal Serghini.

Clarke, who is the patron of the MENA Golf Tour, picked up shots in his first two holes to set the tone for the day. He rounded off in a similar fashion with back-to-back birdies, putting himself in prime position for a final-day charge.

Joining the 47-year-old in a four-way tie for third at seven-under were English amateur James Allan, his compatriot, Craig Hinton, and South Africa’s Tyler Hogarty.

“I look forward to competing against such a top-quality field,” said 21-year-old Allan, who flirted with victory before finishing second in a play-off at the recent Ascorp Golf Citizen Open.

“You never know what tomorrow holds, but I am playing well. The confidence is there and let’s see what happens.”

Ted Innes Ker remains the leading Scot but the Duke of Roxburghe’s son is now eight shots off the pace in joint 21st after a second-round 75.

Recent winner Clarke Lutton was among those to miss the cut, as was 2011 Scottish Amateur Championship runner-up Danny Kay.

Closer to home, fog forced the abandonment of the second event on the new Pro Winter Series at Montrose Links, where the weather had been kinder 24 hours earlier as David Law shot a seven-under 64 to beat Paul Lawrie by a shot in a similar tournament run by the Paul Lawrie Foundation.