Saturday 24 August 2019

Clarke hits 'birdie' trouble after Senior rules breach

Darren Clarke hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open Championship at the Warren Golf Course. Photo: Getty
Darren Clarke hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open Championship at the Warren Golf Course. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Darren Clarke looked "goosed" after he incurred a bizarre birdbox penalty and crashed out of the US Senior Open in Indiana.

He followed an opening 73 with a two-over 72 to sit three shots outside the projected cut mark at Warren Golf Course and left to rue an unfortunate rules infraction on the 10th hole in his opening round that led to a costly two-stroke penalty.

At Clarke's request, caddie Bradley Whittle tried in vain to uproot a bird feeder on a pole that was in his intended line of play from the trees, believing it was a movable obstruction.

But by having his caddie bend the pole - an immovable obstruction at the Notre Dame course - a few degrees to the right, Clarke improved his line of play in breach of Rule 8.1a, turning a bogey five into a costly triple-bogey seven.

He ended up 19 shots behind clubhouse leader Steve Stricker, who followed an opening 62 with a six-under 64 to lead by two shots in the clubhouse from Jerry Kelly on 14-under par.

There was little good news for Irish on tour with Robin Dawson the only player to make the cut in Europe.

The Tramore rookie (23) carded a second successive 71 to lie eight behind France's Antoine Rozner on two-under in the Italian Challenge Open at Terre Dei Consoli where Cormac Sharvin and Ruaidhri McGee missed the cut.

In the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama, Paul Dunne (9-over) shot a five-over 76, Michael Hoey (10-over) a 78 and Gavin Moynihan (13-over) an 83 to miss the two-over cut comfortably.

South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout mastered the blustery conditions, carding a 66 to lead by four shots from tournament host Sergio Garcia, home favourites Adri Arnaus and Alvaro Quiros, and Welshman Bradley Dredge on eight-under.

At the PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, Seamus Power's five-over 77 left the Waterford man on pluss six and well outside the cut mark while Dustin Johnson and US Open champion Gary Woodland will also have the weekend off.

Big-hitting Cameron Champ raced to the turn in eight-under 28 but came home in one-over for a seven-under 65 to lead in the clubhouse on 13-under.

In amateur golf, Caolan Rafferty is eight shots behind Germany's Matthias Schmid heading into the final round of the European Amateur in Austria.

Schmid fired a nine-under 63 at Diamond Country Club to lead by two strokes from Austria's Maximilian Steinlechner on 13-under with Rafferty tied for eighth after a 70.

In the Vagliano Trophy at Royal St George's, Forrest Little's Julie McCarthy beat world number three Frida Kinhult 3&1 to leave Great Britain & Ireland trailing 7-5 after the opening day.

Kirkistown Castle's Beth Coulter won both her matches to help GG&I take a 5-4 lead in the Junior Vagliano Trophy.

Andalucia Valderrama Masters, Live, Sky Sports, 1.0pm Rocket Mortgage Classic, Live, Sky Sports, 6.0pm

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