Dazz-aster on the greens for Clarke

Dazz-aster on the greens for Clarke
 Royal Birkdale

Royal Birkdale

Darren Clarke had a putting "disaster" but gave his putter a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

The 2011 champion birdied his last two holes to crash to a five over par 75.

But even after rolling in a 30 footer for a three at the last, the 48-year old joked that his putter was lucky it was still in one piece after he racked up 38 putts.

Clarke said: "I had five three-putts, my putting speed was awful. My putting was a disaster!

"That putter will not be with me tomorrow. It’s very fortunate that it’s in one piece. Someone will be getting a very nice putter."

Clarke ordered his caddie "Reggie" to retrieve five putters from the boot of his car and meet him on the putting green immediately after his round.

He was annoyed not to turn some good ball striking into a decent score on a rain-softened course that was there for the taking.

After seeing Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka fire 65s, he said: “I need to find a couple of putters because we’ve got some adverse weather coming in and that could affect the red numbers we’re seeing.

"I think the course is absolutely brilliant. That bit of rain softened it up and has given the guys the chance to make birdies, that’s why the scoring is so good. 

“Had it stayed the way it was, I don’t think you’d be seeing so many red numbers."

Clarke bogeyed the fifth, sixth, seventh and 10th, then double bogeyed the 13th and bogeyed the 16th before two late birdies took away some of the pain.

He still loves the links test, insisting: "It’s the equaliser, it’s where the game started, it’s the roots of the game.

"It’s about managing your trajectory and controlling the ball. But you’ve got to make putts as well.

“If you don’t make many putts, that’s going to happen."