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Senior Open: Smart strategy pays off for Darren Clarke as he shares the lead ahead of Bernhard Langer |  Golf news


Darren Clarke played it “smart” at Sunningdale and birdied six in a first 65 that gave him a share of the first-round lead with James Kingston at the Senior Open. Watch the second day live from 1 p.m. on Sky Sports Golf.

Last update: 07/22/21 9:13 PM

Darren Clarke shares first-round lead at Sunningdale

Darren Clarke used his respect for Sunningdale to his advantage by gaining a share of the first-round lead with James Kingston at the Senior Open.

Clarke took advantage of a sunny and profitable afternoon on the historic Old Course and granted a six birdie 65 card to strike the front with Kingston, who is leading a senior major just weeks after being hospitalized with Covid- 19.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer made his usual strong debut in the major tournament he won four times, while there were also encouraging openings for a number of former European Ryder Cup captains.

Senior Open: Smart strategy pays off for Darren Clarke as he shares the lead ahead of Bernhard Langer |  Golf news

Clarke had six birdies and only dropped one shot in his 65

Clarke will sleep head-to-head overnight after reaching turn 31 and, after his only mistake of the round in the 12th, he fought back to birdie the next two holes and come home safely to stay. to five under par.

“I think you have to respect Sunningdale,” said Clarke, two-time PGA Tour Champions winner. “You have to play smart here. It’s important to hit the fairways, it can be any week, but I’ve played enough here to know that there are certain flags that you take and there are certain flags. that you don’t go for.

“And I played smart here. I hit the flags away in the middle of the greens and gave myself a few chances, and I continued to give myself chances there in the last holes. nothing done at the end but I just played smart. I think the winner will have to play smart this week. “

Senior Open: Smart strategy pays off for Darren Clarke as he shares the lead ahead of Bernhard Langer |  Golf news

Bernhard Langer is one of the leaders chasing his fifth title

Kingston arrived in Sunningdale following his win at the WINSTOgolf Senior Open Invitational in Germany last week, although the South African still felt he lacked the required preparation for a major due to his time at the ‘hospital.

He said: “I feel like I was a little unprepared. I was down with Covid and in the hospital so I don’t think my preparation for this week is exactly what I am doing. would have liked. But when you get to a place like this and you like the golf course, it just seems to sneak into your game, and I like what I see there.

“You keep looking at the scenery, those purple flowers with the green and all the stripes in the fairways, it’s just a beautiful golf course. This is one of the most beautiful golf courses I think I have ever played . “

Senior Open: Smart strategy pays off for Darren Clarke as he shares the lead ahead of Bernhard Langer |  Golf news

Ernie Els shot 67 in his Senior Open debut

Langer, meanwhile, shows no signs of slowing down as he nears his 64th birthday, with the evergreen German birding three of the last five holes in a neat finish to 66 before awarding his fitness and its longevity with “sauerkraut and sausages”.

“I think my strength was my driving,” Langer said. “I did it pretty well at the start and had some really good iron shots, but my weakness was the putter. I had two three putts at the start and made my first putt on the 16th and one. another on the 17th and I had a par save on 18. I wish I could play a few more holes but I was just starting to warm up with the putter! “

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As Langer bid for his Senior 12th major and fifth at the Senior Open, Ernie Els marked his debut with a fluent 68, and while three other European Ryder Cup captains, Thomas Bjorn, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam are all well placed two under par.

Paul McGinley, the 2014-winning captain, birdied the last to a 69, one of 34 under-70 rounds on opening day, while pre-tournament favorite Jim Furyk went well at two under, with birdies at both par-fives, only to end with a double-bogey six at the end.

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