Sport Golf

Saturday 16 December 2017

Darren Clarke relishing wet weekend at Sandwich

Phil Casey

Darren Clarke is looking forward to some bad weather for the rest of the 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's after claiming a share of the clubhouse lead.

The 42-year-old carded a rollercoaster 68 today which included an eagle, five birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey, posting a halfway total of 136, four under par, which was matched in the next group by former US Open champion Lucas Glover (70).

It means Northern Ireland could be celebrating a third major victory in quick succession after Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy won the last two US Opens, and Clarke said: "It would mean an awful lot, but obviously this is only after two rounds.

"There's an awful long way to go yet, and I believe the forecast for the weekend is very, very poor, which I quite look forward to.

"But the course is going to play very, very tough. If that's the case, then the tournament is still wide open for an awful lot of players. There's still two days of tough golf and tough weather ahead of us."

Mr Clarke, who was second in the Open at Troon in 1997 and third at Lytham in 2001, revealed that working again with renowned sports psychologist Dr Bob Rotella and moving back to Portrush were the key ingredients in his resurgence.

"I've been doing a lot of practising in bad weather because that's usually what we get at Portrush," he joked.

"That's a little bit harsh. It's not always that bad.

"But it's certainly been tough conditions practising, not quite as easy as it was when I was living in London. It's a case of getting used to playing in bad weather on links again, and that's what I've been doing all over the winter at home. Hopefully it will stand me in good stead."

Surprisingly given the perfect conditions for the morning starters, the lowest round of the day so far was just 67 from Raphael Jacquelin and US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, taking the pair to one over and two under respectively.

And, not for the first time in recent memory, the leaders were in danger of being upstaged by 61-year-old Tom Watson, who had yet another Open memory to savour today after firing a hole-in-one.

Just two years after having a putt to win a record-equalling sixth Open title at Turnberry and become the oldest major winner by 11 years, Watson reclaimed the headlines by holing his tee shot to the 169-yard par-three sixth.

The American's four-iron approach was always right on line and bounced once before plummeting into the hole to spark a massive roar from the large gallery.

Watson is not the oldest player to record a hole-in-one in the Open however. Gene Sarazen was 71 when he aced the famous Postage Stamp at Troon in 1973.

Watson eventually signed for a 70 to finish two over, three behind amateur playing partner Tom Lewis. Lewis shared the overnight lead after an opening 65 - the lowest by an amateur in Open history - but could only manage a 74 today with five bogeys and just one birdie.

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport