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Darren Clarke halfway home to adding Senior Open title to claret jug

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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.

Full-field scores from The Senior Open Championship

“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.

Highlights: Senior Open, Round 2

Highlights: Senior Open, Round 2

Highlights: Senior Open, Round 2

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.