Clarke disgusted with Open start

By Brian Keogh

Thunder-faced Darren Clarke stomped off the course after a sloppy 75 and groaned: "I'm just disgusted."

The Dungannon man was the home favourite to take the title with the bookies but flopped at the first fence in the Major he wants the most.

His dream of lifitng the Claret Jug turned into a nightmare as he carded seven bogeys in 11 holes from the sixth.

The Ulster star was so annoyed with his lack of accuracy with his irons that he immediately headed off to the range for an emergency session with coach Butch Harmon.

He said: "I was just basically disgusted with the way I played. I played terrible. I hit just six greens and deserved every shot that I took."

Clarke was off at 7.30 am in widn and rain but played solidly for the openign holes with Davis Love and the Japanese star the call the Cowboy, Shingo Katayama.

He holed from eight feet at the par five fourth to dip under par and althouhg he dropped a stroke at the par thre sixth where his tee shot finished 30 yards short of the pin, he holed a ten footer for a birdie at the seventh to get back to one under.

His tupsy turvy round continued at the terrifying eighth where he raced his difficult approach putt from the fringe up a slope and 30 feet past the hole.

But after covering the front nine in level par he still looked in reasonable control of his game.

Things started to go wrong in earnest on the back nien when he missed the green at the 10th and 11th and failerd to save par.

Those back to back bogeys shattered his confidence and despiute pulling a shot back with a birdie at the 12th he dropped three more shots coming home.

After a bogey at the par five 14th he missed the green at the 17th and then failed to frighten the hole with a fiour foot par putt at the tough 18th.

Afterwards the Ulsterman confessed that he never felt comfortable all day long.

He complained: "It started off all going wrong and didn't improve. I played terrible. I hit six greens and hardly hit a proper shot all day.

"What's the cause of it? I've no idea. It weasn't on the greens. I played so bad andI've struggled all week and it certainly wasn't any better today."

Clarke flopped into a buggy and headed to the range for a coaching session with Harmon.

Ironically, Clarke's putting saved him from an even bigger disaster.

He was at his "wit's end" with his form on the greens after the US Open in Chicago but took just 27 putts yesterday.