Two bogeys in his last six holes cost Darren Clarke a chance to break 70 in the opening round of the Asian Tour’s CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters.
Back in action after a hamstring injury forced him to sit out his last three events, including the Masters, the 42 year old opened with a two under 70 to trail Australia’s Scott Hend and Korea’s Hwang Inn-choon by four shots at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
Clarke struck the ball brilliantly, missing just two fairway and three greens while recording 31 putts
Four under after birdies at the third, sixth, ninth and 10th, the 2011 Open champion three-putted the 13th and then failed to get up and down for par at the 17th to finish his day in joint 21st place.
Reigining Open champion Ernie Els shot a four-under-par 68 to end the day tied for fourth in the US$750,000 event.
“I got to be satisfied with that,” Els said. “Obviously you would like to say it could have been better but I played nicely. I made a silly mistake on the third hole which was a short par four. I played with a nice group of guys who played good as well.
“I guess we all fed off each other. Scott Hend really started it off when he birdied three in a roll early in the round. Hopefully I can get it going tomorrow as well.”
On the European Tour, it was a disappointing day for the Irish contingent in the Volvo China Open where Dutchman Robert Jan Derksen shot a six under 66 to lead by two from last week’s Ballantine’s Championship winner Brett Rumford, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Spanish Open winner Raphael Jacquelin.
Michael Hoey was was the best of the bunch as he posted a level par 70 to share 40th. Damien McGrane’s 73 was just inside the cut mark but Peter Lawrie (75) was tied for 96th and Paul McGinley and Gareth Maybin down in 119th after four over 76s.