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Rory McIlroy may have been the centre of attention so far this week at Royal Liverpool, but it was fellow Northern Irishman Darren Clarke who recorded the joint-lowest score of the day, carding a five-under-par round of 67.
The 2011 Open Champion started on the 10th tee and made four consecutive birdies around the turn before making bogey-birdie-birdie on the 3rd, 4th and 5th.
“I played nicely all day today, gave myself lots of chances,” said Clarke. “The rain was pretty heavy at the start but I think we got a break with the weather. I just kept hitting it close, and then had a silly three-putt on the third and managed to hole a 40-footer on the next one to get it straight back again. I holed a couple of putts and managed to keep some momentum going.”
Having recorded a season-best finish of T24 in the Volvo Golf Champions and missing 10 out of 14 cuts on the European and PGA Tours this season, Clarke admitted that The Open brings the best out of his game.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “It’s the biggest and best tournament in the world. I enjoy playing links golf and The Open Championship is the one that I always look forward to playing from the start of the year. All the courses in The Open rota are sensational golf courses. They’re all very different.”
Graeme McDowell ruled himself out of contention with a first round score of 74, but rounds of 69 and a 68 have left him at -5, just outside the top 10, and Ireland’s Shane Lowry, having endured a rather turbulent week after posting a 68 on his first round before following it up with a 75 on Friday, shot a two-under-par round of 70 today.