Darren Clarke looked determined to make up for his near miss in the The Senior Open last year as he opened with a five-under 65 to lie just a shot off the lead at Gleneagles.
The 2011 Open champion (53) made five birdies in a bogey-free effort around the King’s Course to share third place with Paul Broadhurst and Americans Jerry Kelly and Kent Jones as Canada’s Stephen Ames and American Glen Day fired 64s to lead on six-under.
“I played nicely today,” said Clarke, who was third behind Stephen Dodd at Sunningdale last year. “I played smart today. I had my old caddie on the bag this week which has been great.
“Coming off last week (missed cut in the Open) when I was so disappointed to play as poorly as I did, worked really hard. Kept trying to get ready for this week and played a lot better today.
“I tried to leave myself on the right side of the flag most of the time today which I did. A few other chances, misjudged the speed a few times. Out there there’s some quick putts and really slow ones going uphill into a little bit of grain, but overall pretty pleased.”
US Senior Open champion Pádraig Harrington (50) is tied for seventh on after making six birdies in a four-under 66, with Paul McGinley 59th after a 71 and Sean Fitzgerald six-over after a 76.
“I’m happy with the score,” Harrington said. “I was very tentative. I putted well and my putter saved me most of the day. I was just tentative with my iron shots particularly.”
It’s also a Major week on the LPGA Tour but Leona Maguire has work to do to catch the leaders even after she birdied three of her last six holes to open with a one-under 70 in the Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort in France.
The world No 19 birdied the 16th to turn in one-under but after starting for home with three successive bogeys to slip to two-over, the Co Cavan star birdied the fourth, seventh and ninth to end the day tied for 39th.
She’s seven strokes behind Japan’s Ayaka Furue, whose eight-under 63 tied for the second-lowest round in the event’s history. An LPGA rookie, Furue (22) carded nine birdies and one bogey to lead by a shot from Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson as Stephanie Meadow shot a 71 to share 64th.
Meanwhile, Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney made five birdies in a two-under 70 to head the Irish challenge in the DP World Tour’s Cazoo Classic at Hillside.
The Dubliner (34) was tied 30th, seven shots behind Liverpudlian Paul Waring, who carded a nine-under 63 to lead by two strokes from compatriot Garrick Porteous.
Jonathan Caldwell and Gavin Moynihan were 41st after 71s with Cormac Sharvin, David Higgins and Simon Thornton just inside the cut line after 72s as Paul Dunne struggled to an eight-over 80.
On the Challenge Tour, Holywood’s Tom McKibbin birdied his last two holes to open with a five-under 67 in the Big Green Egg German Challenge at Wittelsbacher Golf Club to share fifth place.
He’s just three shots behind Slovakia’s Tadeáš Tetak, who posted a bogey-free eight-under 64 to lead by a shot from Spaniard Manuel Elvira.
Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee shot had an eagle two at the eighth in a 70 to share 26th on two-under, with John Murphy and Dermot McElroy just inside the cut line after 71s. Charlie Williams was 80th after a 72 as Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell signed for a 74.
Senior Open Championship, 1.0;
3M Open, 7.0; Cazoo Championship, 7.0;
Evian Championship, 10.0
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