Clarke struggles in Joburg Open

By Brian Keogh

Darren Clarke was hopping mad after opening with a two over par 73 in the Joburg Open in South Africa.

The Ulsterman, 39, hoped to get his 2008 campaign off to a fast start after rounding off 2007 with his first top-10 for 18 months in the South African Open.

But two bogeys in his last three holes ruined his day on the West Course at rain-lashed Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Tied for 89th place with fellow Ulsterman Gareth Maybin (73), Clarke has work to do to make the cut for the top 65 and ties.

Bidding for his sixth Ryder Cup cap this year, the Dungannon man is eight strokes behind South African pace-setters Tyrone Ferreira and Mark Murless.

Rookie Ferreira, 20, fired a bogey-free, six under par 65 on his pro debut to share top spot with compatriot Murless.

England's Ross McGowan, Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal and Welshman Sion Bebb finished the day a stroke further back after five under par rounds of 66.

The top nine scores all came from the West Course with Dubliner Stephen Browne the best of the Irish after a one over par 72 on the East Course.

Browne was four over par after four holes but produced four birdies and just one dropped shot from the eighth to share 76th place.

Belfast's Michael Hoey was six over par with three to play on the East Course but rallied with two birdies in his last three holes to card a four over par 75.

Glasson's Colm Moriarty also played the East Course but had to birdie the par-five 18th for a five over par 76.