The Open 2019: Hometown hero Darren Clarke enjoys dream start at Royal Portrush

18 Jul

Darren Clarke delighted the huge crowds at Royal Portrush by storming into an unlikely early lead at the 2019 Open Championship.

The Northern Irishman was given the honour of taking the first tee shot as the tournament got underway at 6:35 this morning.

Clarke raced to two-under par through six holes
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Clarke is a major winner from this decade, having been victor at the 2011 Open, but few people expected the 50-year-old to mount a serious challenge this week.

That changed with a superb birdie at the first, followed by another two more in his opening six holes, which was better than any of the other early starters managed.

Clarke, who now plies his trade of the Champions Tour, has previously declared Royal Portrush his favourite golf course in the world.

The former champion, who has missed three of the last four cuts at majors, also benefited from some bright early weather before the rain arrived to raise the difficulty level later in the morning – and his current score of one-under could look ever better at the end of the day.

Clarke has pieced together a promising early round
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One player who felt the full force of that test was fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy.

The favourite made a horrendous start at a place where he shot a course-record 61 as a 16-year-old in 2005.

Remarkably, he made a quadruple-bogey eight on the par-four first.