Darren Clarke Claims Playoff Victory in South Dakota

Darren Clarke Wins Sanford International
Darren Clarke poses with the trophy after winning the Sanford International at Minnehaha CC on Sept 19, 2021 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (Photo by Alex Goodlett via Getty Images)

Darren Clarke closed with a 5-under par 65 and then beat Steve Flesch and K.J. Choi with a birdie on the second overtime hole to claim victory at the Sanford International.

Clarke, the 2011 British Open Champion, got his final round off to a rocky start out with a bogey on the very first hole. But the 53-year-old Northern Irishman was clean for his next 17 holes, which featured 11 pars and six birdies, highlighted by a final-hole gain to reach 12 under and join a playoff.

“It’s nice to get back in the winner’s circle again,” said Clarke. “In the playoff you never know what’s going to happen, anybody can make birdie and luckily it was my day today.”

For his third win of the season, Clarke earned $270,000.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Sioux Falls,” said Clarke. “The fans have been brilliant. I’ve had maybe a little beverage with one or two of them in the past, so it’s been nice to have that atmosphere and that support.

“It’s always wonderful.”

Choi, who entered Sunday’s finale with a four-shot lead over Clarke, posted 69.

“Playoff, in the second hole, hit the tree at the left,” said Choi. “Is disappointing, but good finish.”

Flesch, who got knocked out on the first playoff hole with a bogey, carded a final-day 66.

“I played well, I’ve been playing well,” said Flesch said. “I just wish I could have played that 72nd hole over.

“I picked an aggressive line and made kind of a tentative swing with the 3-wood and it got me. You know, that 18th hole, it’s playing tough. Straight downwind, it’s hard to get the ball on the right level.”

Miguel Angel Jimenez, last year’s Sanford winner, posted 66 to finish T4 on 10 under, alongside Rod Pampling (69).

One further back was U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker who shot 67 to sit alone in sixth on 9 under.

Retief Goosen (69), Alex Cejka (71), John Senden (65) and Steven Alker (67) rounded out the top-10 finishers at T7 on 8 under.

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