Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Peter Byrne/PA Wire. Darren Clarke carded an 8 on the sixth hole.
# Hammer Blow
Quadruple bogey halts Clarke charge at The Open but Westwood birdies it up
Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell set off just before 10am in pursuit of tournament leader Zach Johnson.

Updated 11:45

DARREN CLARKE HAD a quadruple bogey disaster on the sixth hole to castrate his early morning charge at The Open. The Dungannon native landed his drive into the thick rough, chipped onto the fairway, pushed his iron approach into a bunker and took three attempts to escape a greenside bunker.

The 44-year-old was showing early glimpses of the form that brought him a Claret Jug in 2011. He began his second round on +1 but reeled off three birdies in his opening five holes to move up to -2. The quadruple bogey dropped him back to +2 but birdies followed on the back nine and Clarke is back to level par. Zach Johnson, who tees off at 3:07pm, leads on -5.

Lee Westwood has also started strongly and is on -4 after recording five birdies on his outward nine. Other early movers on day two are Scotland’s Martin Laird and Jordan Spieth from America who have both climbed to -3.

Luke Donald’s quest to break the course record of 64 [set by Colin Montgomerie in 2002] got off to a good start as he birdied the first and third holes. That gains moved the Englishman up to +7 but he will need plenty more birdies on the back nine to stick around for the weekend as will “brain dead” world number two Rory McIlroy [+8], who tees off this afternoon.

1998 Open champion Mark O’Meara was hale and hearty at his press briefing at Muirfield on Thursday following his opening round of 67.

The American dismissed the suggestions, of players like Ian Poulter [+1] and McIlroy, that the course was set up too fast and firm. A slight wind kicked up on Thursday but O’Meara, a veteran of ’27 or 28′ Open championships, scolded the younger generation. He said:

I’ve seen the most horrendous conditions you can think about playing golf in out there. But today the wind really didn’t blow that hard. I understand the course is dry. It’s firm. It’s fast. And the greens got pretty quick for an Open Championship. But just in my estimation, I don’t know, I mean, I didn’t see it being unfair.”

O’Meara was forced to eat his words early in his second round as he bogeyed two holes and double bogeyed the sixth to drop back to level par. Asked, yesterday, if he fancied his chances of capturing another Claret Jug, O’Meara remarked, “I hope my wife thinks I’ve got a chance of winning, because I’m building a new house.”

The 56-year-old finished with four bogeys on his final five holes. He sits at +3 and will hope scoring gets tougher so he can stick around for the weekend. Otherwise his wife, Alicia, may draft him in for a spot of carpentry or plumbing on the new build.

Leaderboard [as of 11:45am]

-5: Zach Johnson

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-4: Rafael Cabrero-Bella, Lee Westwood

-3: Dustin Johnson, Miguael Angel Jimenéz, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth, Martin Laird

For the full and up-to-date leaderboard click here >>

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