Darren Clarke’s hopes of securing an historic double at The Senior Open took a hit as he went in reverse on moving day at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The Dungannon star and 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year is bidding to become just the fourth player in history to win both The Open and The Senior Open and in doing so, joining the elite trio of Bob Charles, Gary Player and Tom Watson.
However, despite a strong debut showing, Clarke now finds himself four shots back after posting a three-over par 73 that leaves him in a tie for ninth at minus-one heading into Sunday’s final round.
The 50-year old posted four bogeys and a double in a damaging day three effort and trails 2016 champion, Paul Broadhurst who will take a one stroke lead into the final round as he bids for his second victory in Europe’s only Senior Major Championship.
The Englishman carded a three-under par 67 in tough conditions for a five under total and holds the 54-hole lead at a Senior Major for the second time this season after leading the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill in May.
“I have great memories of playing here, I won the Lytham Trophy as an amateur, I won the Silver Medal in The Open the same year. I led The Open in ’96 after one, and Tom Lehman won. I’ve had some really good memories at Lytham, so yeah, it would mean an awful lot,” said the leader.
“I’ve got to take some confidence out of the way I played today. You know, if you are leading the tournament, it’s the biggest tournament we play nowadays. I’m leading and I’ve got to take confidence from that. I’m under no illusions; it will be a tough day tomorrow, especially if it’s like this, so I’ll just continue what I did today.”
Broadhurst, who shared the lead after Thursday’s first round, has fond memories of Royal Lytham & St Annes having won the Lytham Trophy and the Silver Medal as an amateur at The Open on this course in 1988 and led The 1996 Open after 18 holes. He will tee off tomorrow in search of his third Senior Major Championship since turning 50 in 2015.
He is one stroke ahead of America’s Woody Austin who took sole ownership of second place after closing birdies on two of his last three holes.
Countrymen Ken Duke and Wes Short Jr share third place on three under par, while ten-time Senior Major Champion Bernhard Langer, Australia’s David McKenzie and the Welsh pair of Stephen Dodd and Phillip Price are fifth on two under.
Paul Eales carded the low round of the day, a four under par 66 to move up 40 places into a share of ninth with 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year Darren Clarke and American Tim Petrovic.
Shortly after completing his third round, five-time Champion Golfer of the Year and three-time Senior Open winner Tom Watson, announced that this will be his final competitive appearance in the United Kingdom. His historic final round will commence at 09:35.
“I’ve thought quite long and hard about the decision I’ve made. It has to do with really a pretty sensible assessment of how I play the game now,” said Watson.
“I don’t have the tools in the toolbox. I’ve mentioned that before, that sometimes you lose the tools in the toolbox. I just don’t have enough tools in the toolbox to really compete successfully.
“I’m declaring now that this is my last Senior Open Championship. I’ve had a good career playing professional golf all these years. I’ve run across so many fine people who have helped me and supported me. First of all, my wife who is battling cancer now. It’s going to give me some time to go out and compete with her.”
Full Scoring HERE
Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!