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Darren Clarke tied for lead at first senior major of the season as game-plan pays off at Regions Tradition

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Darren Clarke says he has been using all his experience to stay in contention at the Regions Tradition. Pic: GettyImages

Darren Clarke says he has been using all his experience to stay in contention at the Regions Tradition. Pic: GettyImages

Getty Images

Darren Clarke says he has been using all his experience to stay in contention at the Regions Tradition. Pic: GettyImages

Darren Clarke is trying to use every ounce of experience he has gained over a top level career in order to bag his first major trophy on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 52-year-old is in a tie for the lead at the halfway stage of the Regions Tradition after carding a slightly disappointing one under par second round allowing Alex Cejka, Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker to draw level at seven under.

It was a steady round of two birdies and a solitary drop shot for Clarke, who explained how course management played a significant role in guiding his way round the Founders Course at Greystone Golf and Country Club.

“I didn't play particularly well today at all. It was a grind again,” he said. “Just try to hang in there. It's a four-round tournament as opposed to three (rounds in a standard Champions Tour event), so obviously important to just hang about there and try to give myself a chance come Sunday afternoon on the back nine.

“With a regular event, you get after it from the very start. You just have to because if you get behind the eight-ball early, you shoot level par, you're out of the tournament. Four-round tournaments; we're used to doing it playing the regular tours where you sort of jockey for position and you try to keep yourself in there and give yourself a chance. And that's all you can do, try to give yourself a chance on Sunday afternoon on the back nine to win the tournament, in any tournament, but especially in a four-round one. With it being a major here this week, that's what I'm trying to do.”

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Clarke has dropped only two shots across his opening two rounds, something that he indicates is an achievement in itself and owing to his careful strategy.

“The golf course is tricky,” he said. “It gives you opportunities, but it doesn't take much of a bad shot to put yourself in a really tricky position, make bogey or double very, very easily. So it's an exciting golf course in that there's a lot of risk-reward, the par 5s especially. But if you do make a bad swing, you know, you're going to make double and you're thinking you almost lost three shots to the field because you're thinking the field's made 4 and you've made 7.

"So it's challenging. There are a few shots you've got to stand there and hit and be counted for. Today for me, unfortunately, I was sort of playing away from the trouble a little bit because I didn't quite have it again today. Hopefully the answer will be in the dirt on the range.”

Clarke has already won two PGA Tour Champions events, adding January’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai to the TimberTech Championship he won back in November.

After that, he admitted that a senior major would be the next step toward his ultimate goal of winning the Senior British Open Championship this summer.


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