Local man Clarke kicked off the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.


Darren Clarke Rolls Back The Years At Open Championship

Darren Clarke kicked off proceedings at The Open Championship in his hometown Royal Portrush earlier today and he showed some of the form that secured an Open victory in 2011 and got him into the worlds top-10 earlier in his career.

Clarke received a huge rousing reception on the first tee but he quickly set about his business in imperious fashion as he birdied three of the first five holes.

The putter was clearly hot at the start of the round

From that point on he bogeyed the par-5 7th to post two-under for his first nine holes of work. He would have taken that before play began no doubt.

“I tried to hit a trap draw 4-iron but got slightly ahead of it and hit it straight right into a bush,” Clarke said of the lay up that led to bogey on the 7th.

“I should have played the easy shot but I didn’t”

That came after turning to British Amateur Champion and playing partner James Sugrue on the 7th tee and saying, “You came through my Darren Clarke Foundation and I’m leading and you’re second. There’s something not quite right here.”

The back nine he regressed slightly having a couple of birdies and four bogeys on the back nine to get into the clubhouse at level par.

“The last time I experienced that was in 2011 on the 72nd hole,” Clarke said of his walk up 18.
“I probably smiled a bit more today than I usually do. I wanted to show my appreciation of the incredible support I got.”

Who knows, given the weather’s ability to completely switch at The Open Championship, that may not be too bad at days end.

Before the tournament speaking to Golf Monthly about the course Clarke said “It’s a very fair links course and I think the guys will really enjoy the challenge. That’s very important to me. The course is so good that it’s hard to single out holes and there will just be such an atmosphere around Portrush. It’s a great town and this event will not only benefit Portrush but also Northern Ireland and all of Ireland.”

Clarke took on the challenge of the course today and rolled back the years to set up a possible charge over the next few days.

One player who would take a level par round right now is Rory McIlroy who started with a quadruple bogey eight on the first after hitting his opening tee shot out of bounds and then taking a penalty drop after finding thick rough to the left of the first green.

He then bogeyed the third to get to five-over par from his first three holes. Clearly the nerves and expectations have proved to be too much for the Northern Irishman.

Another Royal Portrush native Graeme McDowell started well in his first round as he currently has two birdies and six pars in his front nine.

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