Second-round 68 sees Clarke climb to T13 at Kaulig Companies Championship

Mark McGowan

Darren Clarke (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Darren Clarke is just seven shots off the lead going into the weekend at the Champions Tour’s Kaulig Companies Championship at Firestone Country Club in Akron Ohio.

A bogey at the ninth was Clarke’s only dropped shot on the day, picking up birdies at the second, eighth and 15th holes to climb 16 places on the leaderboard and, at level par, he’s just two strokes off a tie for fifth place.

An opening two-over 72 left the 2011 Open champion seven adrift of Steve Stricker and Harrison Frazer, and the latter matched Clarke’s two-under in round two to open up a one-stroke advantage over Champions Tour rookie Stewart Cink with Ernie Els one further adrift on -5. K.J. Choi occupies solo fourth at four-under and there’s a two-stroke gap to those at -2.


Stricker, who found the going much tougher in round two, is among them, struggling to a three-over 73, with evergreen Bernhard Langer who recently nabbed a record-breaking 46th Champions Tour victory at the U.S. Senior Open, among those tied for eighth at -1.

“Biggest takeaways?” 51-year-old Frazer, who’s still searching for his first Champions Tour win was asked afterwards. “I didn’t play as well as I did yesterday, a little bit looser off the tee. Found myself in a couple of difficult spots, managed to get the ball playable somewhere around the greens, got a couple good breaks, hit a couple good chips. I don’t feel like I wasted any shots. I feel like I got out of it kind of what I could have, especially on that back nine.

“So I’m happy with it, it’s going to happen. It’s a hard golf course, they’re hard fairways to hit. You can hit perfect shots and not hit the fairways. You just have to accept it, move on.”

Els, who finished runner-up to Padraig Harrington in his last Champions Tour start, was in better spirits talking to the media yesterday than he had been after being pipped by the Dubliner at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

“Well, I mean, Dick’s, I played a good event but I went quiet for stretches,” the South African said. “Dick’s was a different golf course than Firestone and going quiet and playing kind of safe, you know, that put me on the back side because Padraig came out and shot a 28. I feel when I’m in position, I think you’ve got to put your foot down. This course is a little different, but let’s see what conditions are like. Today you could go after it. Yeah, you’ve got to just get — if you have a chance to win, go ahead and win a tournament.”


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