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'Obviously Rory': Darren Clarke tips McIlroy for Open victory at Royal Portrush

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke looks ahead to the Open Championship
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke looks ahead to the Open Championship
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

The 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke will be the first person to strike a ball at this year's Championship.

It's fitting that the 50-year-old can take a leading role at his home course at Royal Portrush and, while admitting that he does appreciate the sentiment behind the gesture, he's also hoping it can bring a very real advantage on the course.

"Sometimes it can be a good draw teeing off here at half 6:00 in the morning," he smiled, pointing to the generally more calm morning conditions on the north coast. We shall see.

"Thursday morning is going to be exciting. I just hope I manage to get one going straight down the fairway.

"(R&A chief executive Martin) Slumbers asked me about three weeks ago if I would do them the honor of hitting the opening tee shot. It's Royal Portrush and when The R&A ask you, it's a definite yes. I said I'd love it.

"Will there be tears? No. I'll just be very proud that we have it back here in Northern Ireland."

Clarke's affection for the course is evident in every word that emerges from his lips during his preview press conference, as well as every glint in his eye.

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"The thing about Royal Portrush, it's a fair golf course," he said. "If you play well around Portrush you should have the opportunity to score well. If you're missing too many shots you're not going to get around Portrush, and that's the way it is. That's why it's a Harry Colt masterpiece. There's always a way to play this golf course.

"If you're in the rough, you have a flier, whatever, and you try to fly the ball onto these greens, you're going to be asking for more trouble. So the astute guys will be trying to figure out their way to get around."

Clarke has been busy practicing for what is one of the biggest tournaments in his and the other Irish players' lives.

His presence on the course he knows almost as well as anyone has proved arguably even more beneficial to his playing partners in recent rounds.

 

"I probably told them too much," he says of the advice he offered inquisitive fellow competitors. "Of course I want to beat them but at the same time, they're all good guys. I've been giving them all the info they wanted and a bit more."

So which of those opponents of his does Clarke reckon has the best chance of lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday?

"Obviously I'd say Rory, wouldn't I?" he said.

"I've played quite a bit with Adam Scott the last couple of days and he has been imperious. He's got a very good ball flight, that's why he has played well in Opens. Rosey (Justin Rose) has been good as well. They're all very good and it's who gets most comfortable with the golf course.

"Tiger you don't know what he's going to do after his Masters victory. He kept it out of the bunkers at St Andrews and hit one at Hoylake. He knows how to get around a links course. If he doesn't have to go to his driver, we shall see. He likes to be the master tactician. Playing well, you can never write off Tiger Woods."

Clarke also noticed a potentially significant shift in the natural conditions at Portrush during his early practice rounds.

"The prevailing wind here is down out of the left on the first, but it's more going to be out of the right all week," he noted. "So totally different wind.

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland celebrates his birdie on the first green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland celebrates his birdie on the first green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Some say at the end of a rainbow, there's a pot of gold. In reality, it's Darren Clarke.
A scoreboard showing Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy +4 during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Rory McIlroy made a quadruple bogey eight on his first hole.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy walks down the fairway from the first hole during the first round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 18, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Who's proud of Our Wee Country right now?
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Republic of Ireland's James Sugrue tees off the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke celebrates his birdies on the 1st during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 18, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland lines up a putt on the second green during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Amateur James Sugrue of Northern Ireland prepares to play a shot on the first hole during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays the opening tee shot off the first tee during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays the opening tee shot off the first tee during the first round of the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 18, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
A spectator tries to adjust their umbrella during preview day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club (Richard Sellers/PA)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Tommy Fleetwood of England shields himself from the rain during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Spectators shelter from the rain during preview day four of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club (David Davies/PA)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Xander Schauffele of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Phil Mickelson of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 17: Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 17, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy practices during the 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy walks through the walkway during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tees off the 1st during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark walk during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Penny for your thoughts, Rory?
Tiger Woods on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy on the practice ground during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Brooks Koepka (right) with caddy Ricky Elliott during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Brooks Koepka of the United States and caddie Ricky Elliott speak during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Portrush-born caddie Ricky Elliott is showing his man Brooks Koepka round his home town this week.
Portrush-born caddie Ricky Elliott is showing his man Brooks Koepka round his home town this week.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy on the practice ground during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Tiger Woods during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Tiger Woods on the 17th during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell walks along the fairway at the first hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Spain's Jon Rahm (L) and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell walk along the fairway at the first hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell tees off from the first hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland signs autographs during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland signs autographs during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
A view of USA's Tiger Woods club bag during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
USA's Tiger Woods on the 16th green during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Corey Conners of Canada looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, holds the the Claret Jug prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods tees off the 2nd during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Tiger Woods tees off on the 6th during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Tiger Woods on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Tiger Woods on the 8th Green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
US golfer Tiger Woods plays onto the 18th green during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Tiger Woods tess off on the 17th green during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Tiger Woods practices at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Tiger Woods putts on the 5th during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
US golfer Tiger Woods tees off from the 16th hole during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 15, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
Italy's Francesco Molinari on the 2nd during preview day three of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 16, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Crowds take photos of Tiger Woods on the 9th Tee during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
England's Tommy Fleetwood during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
England's Tommy Fleetwood during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Italy's Francesco Molinari during the press conference on preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Tiger Woods on the 17th tee during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Spain's Sergio Garcia signs autographs during day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Richard Sellers/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during a press conference during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 15, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Jim Furyk of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tommy Fleetwood of England looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tommy Fleetwood of England looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Tony Finau of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Darren Clarke of the Northern Ireland speaks to the media during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 15: Jordan Spieth of the United States "shotguns" a can of water as caddie Michael Greller looks on during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15, 2019 in Portrush, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
A general view of 18th Green in front of the grandstand and the town of Portrush during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Rickie Fowler on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Jason Day signs autographs during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Louis Oosthuizen on the 18th green during preview day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. Still image use only. The Open Championship logo and clear link to The Open website (TheOpen.com) to be included on website publishing.
Rickie Fowler (left) and Tiger Woods on the 1st green during preview day two of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Spectators watch play during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
England's Tommy Fleetwood checks his course notes during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
England's Tommy Fleetwood watches his shot during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
A view looking out over the course in the afternoon sunshine during a practice session at The 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

"It's going to make those first few holes play a little easier, but as soon as you turn on seven, from there on it's going to be playing a lot more difficult.

"You're going to have some strong tee shots, very strong tee shots to hit on, for example, number 11. The last few holes are going to play into the breeze, which is going to be good. Albeit we're not going to get much more than a 50-mile-an-hour breeze. That's the forecast I think.

"It will be interesting to see, especially for myself, how some of the best players in the world try to play this golf course. You can try and take it on at your peril, if you want to, or you can try to play smart and take it over corners, but with doing that you need to be very committed to your lines.

"Because if you're taking an iron and going over, if you push that five, ten yards, you're in thick rough, lost ball, and you have to be committed. It's going to be interesting to see how the guys play it."

Come 6.35am on Thursday morning, hoever, all of the bleary eyes will be on Darren Clarke as he gets the 148th Open Championship under way.

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