Clarke with work to do as Kelly leads at ClubCorp Classic

Adam McKendry
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Clarke with work to do as Kelly leads at ClubCorp Classic

Darren Clarke (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Darren Clarke has left himself with work to do at the ClubCorp Classic after a two-over 73 in his opening round at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas.

The former Open champion and European Ryder Cup captain had fallen to two-over at the turn and then managed to battle his way back to level-par, but a late double-bogey undid all that good work.

At two-over, Clarke trails leader Jerry Kelly – who had a hole-in-one in his first round – by seven shots after day one and will need a big second round if he is to pull himself into contention at the PGA Tour Champions event in Texas.

Two bogeys at the 11th and 15th had Clarke playing catch-up early in his round, but he did so superbly with birdies at the third and fifth getting him back to level, only for that good work to be ruined by a double on the par-four eighth.

That was enough to claw back the deficit back marginally but not enough to make a significant difference, with the 53-year-old needing to make up seven strokes to Kelly over the weekend.

The American holed his tee shot on the par-three sixth, along with seven birdies, on his way to a 65 that has him a shot clear of Woody Austin, Scott Parel and Gene Sauers.

“A little more than 180 (yards), but the wind was down a little out of the right and I was going to hit an eight and ride it, but it would have just been too far moving it right to left,” Kelly said.

“I hit a little hold-up seven in there and it just tracked the whole way and it went in.”

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