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Jose Maria Olazabal fell just short in his bid for Birkdale. (Heathcote/Getty Images)

Olazabal, Clarke miss out as 18 earn spots at Sunningdale

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European Tour stalwarts Jose Maria Olazabal and Darren Clarke missed out as 18 players advanced to Birkdale in the European qualifier.

SUNNINGDALE, England -- Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal failed to qualify for the British Open on Monday when he took bogey on the third hole of a playoff.

Darren Clarke, slowly returning after coping with the death of his wife two years ago, also failed to earn a spot at Royal Birkdale in the 36-hole qualifier for European Tour players at Sunningdale.

Simon Wakefield of England and Ariel Canete of Argentina were co-medalists at 133 to lead 18 players who qualified. Peter Baker holed a 40-foot birdie putt to get into a three-man playoff for two spots with Simon Dyson and Olazabal. Baker and Dyson advanced.

Olazabal, who played in the Ryder Cup in 2006 and was in the final group with Tiger Woods in the British Open at St. Andrews three years ago, has played sparingly this year after recovering from rheumatism. He followed a morning 71 with a 65, but the 40-year-old Baker's late birdie putt forced the playoff.

Also failing to qualify were Rory McIlroy, the low amateur at the British Open last year, and Paul McGinley, who has played on the last three Ryder Cup teams for Europe.

Clarke and others who didn't make it through still have a chance to get into the British Open if they are among the top five at the European Open or the Scottish Open the next two weeks.

The British Open is July 17-20.

Clarke's hopes of extending a run in the British Open that goes all the way back to 1991 are hanging by a thread after he failed to come through the 36-hole qualifier.

Rounds of 74 and 70 were far too many for the Ryder Cup hero, whose only chance now of being at Royal Birkdale -- the course where he made his debut 17 years ago -- is to finish in the top five either at this week's European Open or next week's Scottish Open.

"I'm obviously bitterly disappointed, but in fairness I got what I deserved," said Clarke, who was trying for one of 18 spots from a 120-strong field. "I can't moan about anything. I tried as hard as I could. I have not given up the ghost, but I've got to find a bit of game."

His start was what did the damage -- he double-bogeyed the eighth and ninth holes of the Old Course to be 5 over -- and at lunch he commented: "I'm going fishing in three weeks' time -- that's the way it would appear."

Clarke won the Asian Open in April, but missed the cut in the French Open last week when a top-3 finish would have gotten him into the Open.

Also among those missing out at Sunningdale were Marc Warren, Simon Khan, Charl Schwartzel, Maarten Lafeber, Jeev Milkha Singh, Carl Suneson, Per-Ulrik Johansson, Peter O'Malley, David Frost, Jarmo Sandelin, Peter Senior, Barry Lane and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

In all, the qualifiers from Sunningdale were Simon Wakefield, Ariel Canete, Johan Edfors, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, Ross Fisher, Gregory Bourdy, Paul Waring, Thomas Aiken, Alexander Noren, Pelle Edberg, Anthony Wall, Jose-Filipe Lima, David Horsey, Martin Wiegele, Phillip Archer, Steve Webster, Peter Baker and Simon Dyson.

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