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Clarke starts well in East London

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke made good starts to 2011, scoring four-under-par in the first round of the Africa Open.

Clarke is three shots behind clubhouse leader Brandon Pieters after a rain-affected day in East London.

"I was a bit rusty and hit some poor shots, but hit a few decent ones as well," said Ulsterman Clarke, who is looking to end a two-year winless streak.

"My distance control on the wedges was poor, but that was to be expected after I had a bit of a break. So all in all, I'm pretty pleased with the start."

Clarke, who recorded a pair of eagles, two birdies and two bogeys, added: "There were a few mistakes, but I putted quite nicely. I made two silly bogeys on 13 and 14, but apart from that it was all right."

"I holed a really nice putt on 18 after playing the perfect tee-shot and playing a bit like a dog after that."

South African Pieters leads a group of five players - including Englishman Miles Tunnicliff, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France and fellow countrymen Jaco Van Zyl and Branden Grace - on six under.

Swede Fredrik Ohlsson is the other man part of the group, although he still had one hole to play when bad light forced play to be stopped in the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event.

More than 90 minutes were lost at the start of the day due to heavy mist and rain hanging over the East London Golf Club, meaning several of the afternoon tee-offs will have to complete their rounds Friday.

Eight players were a further shot back on five under after 68s, amongst them five Britons - Saltman brothers Elliot and Lloyd, Ross McGowan, Robert Rock and Lee Slattery, while defending champion Charl Schwartzel sits level with Clarke


From Belfast Telegraph