Clarke enjoys "brutal" test

Darren Clarke enjoyed the first round of The Open despite the brutal conditions. Picture Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ieDarren Clarke survived a “brutal” Muirfield and headed straight for the range to straighten out his swing.

The 2011 Open champion made three bogeys in his last five holes but was still relieved to card a one over 72 with just 30 putts.

After getting up and down from greenside sand for a bogey at the last, Clarke said: “It’s unbelievably tough out there — brutal in places — but I have to say I really enjoyed it.

“I just hit a few loose shots coming in and dropped a few, so I’ll go to the range now to work on a few things. Overall a 72 is not too bad.

“I played very well for the most part but it was a big challenge if you got above the hole to say the least

“I hit a fantastic shot into the 13th and I had a 15 footer down the hill. I barely touched it and it went 11 feet past.

The golf course is playing very difficult but this is The Open.”

Clarke bogeyed the first and seventh but had birdies at the third and sixth to turn in level par.

He was one under with five to play but while he picked up a shot at the par-five 17th, bogeys at the 14th, 15th and 18th sent him scurrying to the practice ground.