Darren Clarke had a bad day at the office. Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ieDarren Clarke was “disgusted” to open his defence of the Claret Jug with a disappointing six over 76.

“I don’t think you could publish my thoughts right now,” he said after taking 32 putts and mixing seven bogeys with a lone birdie at the 10th.

Fearing he could miss the cut, he added: “It is a long drive back home, isn’t it?  I don’t think you could publish my thoughts right now.

“I’ve got work to do.  I’m basically disgusted with myself for shooting six-over.  That’s not what I was after.

“I wasn’t able to make any putts at all to save any momentum or gain any momentum. That’s it, bad day at the office.”

Just 12 months ago he walked up the 18th at Royal St George’s to a standing ovation and while he got a warm welcome as he strode up the last yesterday, his thoughts were far different.

“The fans were great but walking up the 18th I was thinking, ‘How the bleep did I manage to win this last year?’”

The 43-year old arrived on the first tee to rapturous applause, ripped a stunning iron to six feet and then dribbled the putt weakly at the hole.

He said: “I hit a lovely tee shot to the first and made a poor putt.  From there, it just got worse.  I played poorly and I putted worse.”

Clarke slived his tee shot perilously close to the out of bounds on the second, smashing into a tree and dropping into the deep rough. He could only hack it 40 yards up the fairway but bogeyed the hole and dropped another shot at the third when he bunkered his approach and missed a 10 footer for par.

“It was disappointing, because at practice I hit it really, really well,” he said.  “But what can I do, I tried my best on every shot, but unfortunately it wasn’t there again today.

“The course is so benign, if you hit good shots out there you’re going to get rewarded.  I wasn’t able to make any putts at all to save anything, to save any momentum or gain any momentum.  That’s it, bad day at the office.

“I’ve hit it well in practice and hit it well on the range, and I went there and I couldn’t do it.  I started hitting it in the bunkers.  

“Even though my strike was good, I was starting too many shots right of my target, and I couldn’t quite figure out a way to get it back on line again. 

“Couple that with not holing any putts at all, I think of two single putts, one from a foot and one from three foot.  That was about it.”

After another bogey at the eighth, he birdied the 10th to get back to two over but bogeyed the 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th

“Off the tee I wasn’t too bad, but from there on I wasn’t very good,” he said. “The crowd was great.  They kept shouting for me and showing me support.  Unfortunately I couldn’t reciprocate.

“I just tried to stay patient, and I did.  I didn’t get overly frustrated all day.  I tried my best and everything, and it didn’t happen.”

Denied on the greens, he could not blame the putting surfaces, admitting: “I could not marry the line and pace at all.  Couldn’t get it today.”