Darren Clarke is just two shots off the early pace after the opening round of the Hoag Classic on a day that saw low scoring.
Clarke is five-under-par after a 66 while Chris Di Marco, Bernhard Langer and Miguel Ángel Jimenez lead on seven-under with Langer’s round of 64 the ninth time he has bettered his age (1002 counting rounds) as he seeks a record-breaking 46th PGA Tour Champions title this week.
An unremarkable front nine of level-par from Clarke was backed up by a scintillating inward effort of 31.
The 2011 Open champion eagled the par-4 11th before posting birdies on 12, 15 and 18 to climb to a share of 6th place.
Pádraig Harrington teed it up for the first time on the PGA Tour Champions circuit since being confirmed for the 2024 World Golf Hall of Fame, carding a two-under 69 and the Dubliner trails Di Marco, Langer and Ángel Jimenez by five heading into the weekend.
Not much happened for Harrington in his opening round. A bogey on six and a birdie on eight saw him turn in level par.
The 51-year-old briefly got some momentum with birdies on 11 and 15 but a big finish was not forthcoming after he dropped a shot on 16.
A closing birdie ensured the three-time major winner ended the day in 28th place.
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