Clarke continues Open momentum to put himself in JCB contention after opening round

Adam McKendry

Darren Clarke (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Darren Clarke looks to be a man on top form right now as he backed up winning his first senior Major at the Senior Open last week with a five-under 67 in his opening round at the JCB Championship on the Legends Tour.

The Dungannon man went on a birdie blitz, posting eight of them in Friday’s first round – including four in his final six holes – alongside three bogeys to hold fourth place on his own.

Although he is fourth, he’s already five shots back of leader James Kingston, who was outstanding in carding a course record 10-under 62 at JCB Golf & Country Club.

The South African posted eight birdies and an eagle in a superb round to lead the way by two shots from India’s Jeev Milka Singh, who opened with a 64, with South Africa’s Retief Goosen in third after a 66.

Paul McGinley had a positive opening round, too, as four birdies and two bogeys led to a two-under 70 that has him in a tie for 13th in Uttoxeter.

The Dubliner had been on for a promising day as he birdied the par-four first and then the par-five sixth, and even when he dropped his first shot at the par-four 11th, he bounced back with consecutive birdies at the next two holes.

But a frustrating closing bogey dropped him outside the top-10, but he will still take plenty of heart from a promising first round.

It was a tougher day for Mark McNulty, who had two double-bogeys, three bogeys and a birdie in a six-over 78 to hold a share of 67th.


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