THE OPEN 2010: Darren Clarke is relishing Italian job

By Graham Otway for MailOnline

Darren Clarke will feel the odds are stacked against him as he tries to clinch a last-minute place in The Open at St Andrews with victory at Loch Lomond today.

To pick up his first win for two years, the Ulsterman who has slumped to 179th in the world rankings, must first overhaul the one-shot lead that Edoardo Molinari earned with a brilliant 63 in the third round of the Barclays Scottish Open.

And he will feel very much the odd man out in the last three ball of today's final round when he and Molinari are joined by the Italian's younger brother Francesco, whom Edoardo teamed up with last November to pull off a shock victory in golf's World Cup.

Edoardo Molinari and Darren Clarke

Chasing victory: Edoardo Molinari and Darren Clarke seeking victory at the Scottish Open

Some eight shots adrift after his 68 yesterday, Francesco should not prevent the title chase being a two-horse race, but the support he could give his brother when the pressure starts to build could prove vital.

Clarke, however, was last night too excited about his sudden return to form to worry about the pair ganging up on him.

'They are both really nice guys,' he said. 'And I am going to enjoy playing against them.' He also has got the confidence to feel he can clinch the win, or top-five finish, that would secure a late berth to play at St Andrews this week.

'Apart from the tee shot I hit at the fifth and trying to get too clever with a little chip into the 13th, I would not take back a single shot I played out there. I gave myself a lot of chances and just didn't make as many putts as Edoardo.

Darren Clarke

In a hole: Darren Clarke at the Scottish Open

'A month ago at Sunningdale when I missed the chance to qualify for The Open I was in despair but now I am excited about the chance of winning here, though a bit nervous as well.'

Molinari, the former US amateur champion, has a chance of making the European Ryder Cup team and admitted the presence of his brother could help him as he goes for his first European Tour strokeplay victory.

But he added: 'A one-shot lead is nothing and I am playing against Darren, one of the best players all time on the European Tour.

'I think it is going to help me to have Francesco there as well and hopefully he can make some birdies to get in the mix as well.'

Since arriving in Scotland, Graeme McDowell, the US Open champion, has been inundated with the off-course media commitments that go with his new status as a Major winner.

The workload showed in the two level 71s he shot to make the cut. But during his third round he showed signs of getting back into form ready for The Open.

He picked up five birdies in 13 holes before finding water when his ball spun back off the 14th green and then dropped another shot with a wayward drive two holes later.

Nevertheless McDowell declared himself satisfied with the result.

'I am still only 70-75 percent fit, and I ran out of steam a bit,' he said. 'But there were a lot of good swings out there.'

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