SUNNINGDALE, England – Darren Clarke isn’t getting ahead of himself after two good rounds at The Senior Open Championship.
The Northern Irishman shot a 3-under 67 on Friday after posting an opening 65 at Sunningdale and holds a one-shot lead after 36 holes.
Clarke won The Open in 2011 at Royal St. George’s and could become just the fourth player to win both tournaments.
“Certainly, I would love to have this trophy sitting behind the claret jug,” said Clarke, who is at 8-under 132 in the final senior major championship of the year.
Of course, he’s only halfway there.
“We’re all long enough in the tooth to know that this is only two rounds,” Clarke said.
Jerry Kelly (66) was a stroke back with defending champion Bernhard Langer (67). The 63-year-old Langer, who eagled the first hole, won in 2019 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for his fourth victory in the event. The 2020 tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kelly, who leads the Schwab Cup, has yet to post a top-10 in this three Senior Open appearances.
Paul Broadhurst eagled the first and was 5 under on the day, two shots back overall with Ernie Els, a two-time Open champion who carded his second 67. Broadhurst won in 2016 and was runner-up in 2019.
Like Clarke, Els also has a chance to become the fourth player to win both events. The 51-year-old South African said he’s “fighting hard” to stay close to Clarke, his playing partner.
“Darren is a great frontrunner, played really well today, so got a lot of work to do,” Els said.
The 52-year-old Clarke birdied the first and third but three consecutive bogeys left him 4 under before a birdie on the 9th. He only dropped one more shot and added four more birdies, including the 18th.
“If I want to get really in the mix come Sunday afternoon I think my iron play is going to have to improve a little bit,” he said.
First-round co-leader James Kingston shot 4-over 74 and is now seven strokes back.