Darren Clarke has a mountain to climb if he is land back-to-back wins after a rollercoaster start to the Irish Open’s second round this morning.
The newly crowned Open winner had just the start he needed when he struck birdies at both the first and third to make in-roads on overnight leader Jeev Milkha Singh from India.
But Darren, who shot a two under yesterday, then slipped up on the fourth and fifth with back-to-back bogeys to wipe away his advantage.
And then one hole later he holed a birdie to move unto three under ... still in sight of leader Singh was also among the early starters and who dropped a shot over the opening five holes.
Graeme McDowell was among the later starters and he needs to beat par this afternoon or else he’ll be heading home early.
Graeme’s one over round yesterday left him on the projected cut mark, and so the 2010 US Open winner must secure a better round today.
Gareth Maybin may also miss the cut after yesterday’s three over.
He made big in-roads this morning when he shot three birdies in the first four holes but then he had a bogey followed by a double bogey to undo the good work.
Still in the hunt are fellow Ulstermen Michael Hoey (-2), Darren McWilliams (-1) and Alan Dunbar (-1) who were all among the late starters.
Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry are also in danger.
An early birdie brought Padraig back to one over but he had slipped back to three over and seemingly out of the hunt.
Shane had a lot more to make up after his three over yesterday.
l Tiger Woods's return to golf next week will come as he suffers his biggest one-week drop in the world rankings.
Woods will play the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio — his first event since mid-May — 28th at best on the rankings, a fall of seven places from this week.
And his position will be even lower if Open champion Darren Clarke has a top-two finish in the Irish Open or American Gary Woodland wins the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.