Watch: Darren Clarke handed bizarre two-shot penalty during US Senior Open first round
Darren Clarke faces a fight to make the cut at his first US Senior Open after picking up a bizarre two stroke penalty during his opening round.
Clarke, who turned 50 last year, carded a three over par 73 to sit in a tie for 101st at the Warren Golf Course, Notre Dame, Indiana.
Things had been shaping up reasonably well for Clarke when he made the turn at one under par after three birdies and two drop-shots on his opening nine.
However, it was at the tenth that things turned sour. With Clarke's ball left of the fairway, the Northern Irishman was in discussions with a rules official when his caddie attempted to remove a bird house that seemed to be in his man's line of shot.
Clarke was then told later in his round that the bird house is deemed an immovable obstruction and therefore could not be interfered with.
Clarke's caddie had mistakenly thought the bird house was a movable obstruction, defined in the rules as something that can be moved "without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course", which he would have been free to move.
However, Clarke was only entitled to relief from the immovable obstruction if it directly interfered with his stance or his swing, which it did not.
The Portrush man seemed far from happy when filmed remonstrating with officials over the decision.
The two shot penalty turned a bogey five into a triple bogey seven and was followed with further drop shots at 11 and 15 before a birdie at 17 gave Clarke hope going into the second round. With the top 60 and ties making the cut, Clarke is currently three shots off the cut-mark.
Steve Stricker and defending champion David Toms are out in front after shooting eight under par opening rounds. Bernhard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez are the best placed Europeans at five under par, with Colin Montgomerie at two under. Tom Watson shot his age with a one under par 69.
Belfast Telegraph Digital