Local favourite Clarke makes bright start at damp Portrush

Tanya Simon
July 18, 2019

Last time at Royal Portrush.

"To have played a small role, I guess, in kind of getting the gears in motion again to get The Open Championship back here, I mean, it's a proud moment to see it come together". Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Republic of Ireland's James Sugrue tees off the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. It's where his father brought him for his 10th birthday, when he met Clarke for the first time. McIlroy, 30, grew up in nearby Holywood, and he set the Royal Portrush course record with a 61 when he was 16.

"This is a wonderful thing for this country and golf in general and to be quite a big part of it is an honour and a privilege".

THE X MAN: Xander Schauffele, who has played so well in the majors this season - T2, T16, T3 - and was runner-up at last year's Open, started with birdies in his first two holes and then moved to 3 under through five before suffering a bogey at the sixth. "I do know the owner, Matt, and I know we can get a table, it's just a little bit too busy for my liking on tournament week". "And I think it will be a massive thing for the country". "This course has been a big part of my upbringing and it's sort of surreal now that the Open's and these great players are here".

"I said, 'Hey, dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round?'" Woods said with a grin. Round 1 action should be fast and furious as golfers look to take a big step and find a spot atop the leaderboard after 18 holes.

McIlroy and Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay, McDowell and others were among those who took in a rare, late afternoon round for being the eve of the Open. Before long, the rain returned.

"I'm going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support", he said. "I need another one tomorrow". See PA story GOLF Open.

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The R&A awarded Clarke the honor of starting off the British Open. "So I just let him figure it out".

"People are just genuinely fired up and excited".

"His Open challenge fell apart at that first hole", suggested Sky Sports commentator Paul McGinlay.

"When this course gets crosswinds, that's what's going to make it tough, out of the south and south west, like it's supposed to be this week".

Back then, what's happening this week looked, in his words, "beyond the realms of possibility".

"It's the same golf course", he said.

"I think, as well, I think it's probably easier for me this week because it's such a big tournament".

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