Darren Clarke says the Open remains wide open after impressive round

Darren Clarke, happy again and engaged to be married, continued the remarkable Irish golfing story of recent years with a second successive 68 in The Open at Sandwich today.

Perhaps best remembered for his unbeaten performance at the 2006 Ryder Cup just a month after his wife Heather lost her cancer battle, Clarke has since seen Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy all become major champions.



"Nothing could be more difficult than that particular week," said the 42-year-old when asked about The K Club five years ago.



It was 2008 before he won again, but he has still not had a top-10 finish in a major since he was third at Royal Lytham a decade ago.



"It would mean an awful lot, but obviously this is only after two rounds - there is an awful long way to go yet.



"And I believe the forecast for the weekend is very, very poor. I quite look forward to that, but the course is going to play very, very tough.



"If that's the case, then the tournament is still wide open for an awful lot of players and will be."



His round began with laughter.



"That was somebody whistling at me when I was bending over stretching," he explained. "I said 'I hope that was a lady', but he whistled again, same guy. I'm doing something all wrong."



Not in his personal life, though.



He met former Miss Northern Ireland Alison Campbell in a blind date set up by McDowell, he moved to Portrush and they became engaged in December.



"I've got a wonderful fiancee. Alison is a great girl and instrumental in my getting my life back on track," he said.



He owes his place in his 20th Open to taking the 30th and last exempt spot off last year's European Tour money list by less than £2,000.



Clarke's best chance to win came at Troon in 1997. He was clear of the field there, but was overtaken by Justin Leonard's closing 65.



He described his round as "adventurous". He birdied the short third, double-bogeyed the next after a chip came back down a bank to him, but then rolled in an eagle putt of around 80 feet at the long seventh.



He went joint top with a birdie on the eighth, bogeyed the 10th, birdied the 12th and 13th, took six on the 547-yard next after pitching over the green, then failed to get up and down from sand on the 16th.



Clarke finished on a high, though, cutting in a seven-iron at the last and making the 20-footer.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project