The 148th Open Royal Portrush
Dream start
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Clarke opens The Open with a birdie at the first
Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke struck the opening tee shot Thursday morning at Royal Portrush, starting Northern Ireland's first Open in 68 years with a birdie.

Portrush resident Darren Clarke quickly showed why the rest of the Open field has been so eager to pick his brain this week: The man knows his way around the Dunluce Links.

The 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year kicked off The 148th Open with this drive Thursday morning, eliciting raucous cheers from the grandstand surrounding the first tee box.

Clarke strikes the first shot of The 148th Open

A quality approach then left the Ulsterman this look at an opening birdie:

Clarke birdies the first Thursday at Royal Portrush