Clarke off to Open stinker

Defending Open champion Darren Clarke had a day to forget at Royal Lytham & St Annes after carding a six-over-par 76 to slip well behind the early pace-setters (Tiger Woods 11/2 – Outright In-Play).

The Northern Irishman’s grip on the Claret Jug is hanging by a thread after the first day although a number of big names got off to solid starts.

“I don’t think you could publish my thoughts right now,” admitted Clarke at the end of his round.

“It’s The Open – the biggest and best championship in the world – and the course is so benign, but I couldn’t save or gain any momentum. It was a bad day at the office.

“The crowds were great and showed their support, but unfortunately I couldn’t reciprocate.”

Australian Adam Scott fired a six-under-par 64 while the likes of Paul Lawrie, Tiger Woods, Nicolas Colsaerts, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els are all safely under-par as well.

However, world number one Luke Donald could only manage par along with Padraig Harrington, although it was still better than Lee Westwood and Justin Rose who are three-over and four-over respectively.

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