Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Clarke struggles at Irish Open

Darren Clarke

Open champion Darren Clarke bogeyed the last hole and was in danger of joining three-major winner Padraig Harrington in missing the cut at the Irish Open in Killarney today.

While Indian Jeev Milkha Singh remained the man to catch, adding a 70 to his career record-equalling opening round of 63, Clarke shot 74 for one over par and Harrington a 72 for three over.

In his first appearance since triumphing at Sandwich two weeks ago, Clarke said: "I saw the cut was going to be one under and tried to make my chip, but was too aggressive with it. A weekend off is not what I wanted coming here. It will not do me any harm, but I'd much prefer to be playing. It's more mental fatigue than physical fatigue."

He continued: "I was trying, trying, trying and couldn't get anything going - I couldn't buy a putt."

Harrington looked down from the time he double-bogeyed the short sixth, missing the green and leaving his first chip short of the putting surface.

"It's tough when you miss the cut, but it's fine lines out here," said the Dubliner, winner in 2007 and runner-up last season. "It's disappointing, but it's only a game. It just wasn't my two days. Going double bogey, bogey knocked the stuffing out of me."

Singh, whose day started with him hitting into the hazard by Lough Leane, said: "It was a bit more of a struggle, so I'm happy with one under. I didn't drive it that well and my putting was not as good, but it was still good enough."

On nine under, he led by two from England's Simon Wakefield, winner of the Tour qualifying school at the end of last year, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Scot Richie Ramsay, who still had one to play.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, one under and one over respectively overnight, were among the later starters. McIlroy parred the first four holes and McDowell joined him with two opening birdies. The leading Irish players were Damien McGrane and amateur Paul Cutler, who shot 67 in his bid to emulate Shane Lowry two years ago.

The misery goes on for England's Nick Dougherty, though. With a 74 for seven over, he missed his 19th successive cut going back to last November.

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