Tough day at the office for Clarke at Cologuard Classic

Adam McKendry

Darren Clarke (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Darren Clarke had a day to forget in the opening round of the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Arizona as he found birdies hard to come by at the PGA Tour Champions event.

The 53-year-old only birdied one hole on day one and struggled to five bogeys in a four-over 76 that already has him ten shots off the lead held by Jeff Sluman and hole-in-one hero Miguel Angel Jiménez, who both carded 66s.

The mercurial Spaniard, who has already won this season at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, holed out on the 208-yard par-three seventh for the highlight of the day on his way to a share of the lead with Sluman.


That leaves Clarke with a mountain to climb already as he sits in 68th after day one and is seeking some form having started his season with T14 and T58 results in his first two events.

His opening round at Omni Tucson National won’t have improved his mood as he bogeyed three of his first seven holes to reach the turn in three-over, and things didn’t improve on the back-nine.

Another bogey came on the par-four 10th and, although he picked up his only birdie of the day on the par-three 14th, he would round off his day with a bogey at the par-four 18th.

Leader Sluman was bogey-free in his first round, six birdies leading to an opening 66 which was matched by Jiménez, who added five birdies and just the one bogey around his hole-in-one.

“I’ve been playing very solid. I make only one mistake, one bogey on No.8. On No.7 I have my hole-in-one, I hit a six-iron. It was a little downwind off the right. The ball never left the flag. Piece of luck it was a hole-in-one there and I put myself four-under-par,” explained Jiménez.

“Then I bogeyed the next. Then I played very solid, another three birdies to finish. Solid. Happy the way I played, the way I’ve been hitting, managed myself on the golf course.”

Their lead is just one after Woody Austin, Rod Pampling and Tom Lehman all carded 67s, with six players a shot further back following rounds of 68 in Arizona.

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