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Clarke on way home after 'poor putting'

Darren Clarke (pictured) blamed a cold putter after seeing his British Open Championship defence fizzle out after two rounds at Royal Lytham.

Yesterday, Clarke added a second round of 71 to his opening 76 for a seven-over-par total of 147, comfortably outside the halfway cut. "I'm disappointed, I would have liked to come here and put up a good score in defence," said the 43-year-old Ulsterman, who has struggled to reproduce anything like the form which brought him a shock victory at Royal St George's 12 months ago.

"Tee to green was okay, I just had a very cold putter again. It's not been very good for a long time. The damage was done yesterday (Thursday) but I gave myself plenty of chances to make it up today."

Clarke still harboured hopes of making the cut after birdies at both par threes on the front nine contributed to an outward half of 33, but he could not find any more birdies and a bogey on the 18th, where he missed a short putt, summed up his day.

Former world number two Phil Mickelson was among a host of high-profile players to miss the cut, made at three-over par. Mickelson, a four-times major champion, slumped to a dismal 78 for 151.

Six former Open champions from the US also failed to make the weekend -- Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard, Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis, Stewart Cink and David Duval, who won the last Open held at Lytham in 2001. They were joined on the way home by former world No1 Martin Kaymer.

World No3 Lee Westwood flirted with danger before scraping through on three-over 143 with a level-par round of 70 to keep alive his faint hopes of a first major title.