The 148th Open Royal Portrush
The 148th Open
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Clarke strikes opening tee shot to get Championship underway

Darren Clarke opening tee shot

Darren Clarke struck the opening tee shot to officially get The 148th Open underway, as the Championship returned to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.

The 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year was given the honour of beginning proceedings at Royal Portrush and hit the opening ball at 6.35am.

The 50-year-old duly blasted the ball down the middle of the first fairway before playing partners Charley Hoffman and Amateur Champion James Sugrue did likewise.

Darren Clarke first tee shot

Clarke – a resident of Portrush after meeting his first wife Heather in the Antrim town – is one of three Northern Irishman in the field as Graeme McDowell tees off at 9.14am and Rory McIlroy goes at 10.09am.

The Open has left mainland Britain for the first time since 1951, when Max Faulkner triumphed at Portrush, and the crowds have responded with 237,750 people – the second-highest attendance in Open history – due to come through the gates this week.

Reiging Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari returned the Claret Jug to the R&A on Monday and the Italian starts his title defence at 9.58am on Thursday.
Northern Ireland is ready and The 148th Open is firmly underway.

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