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Senior British Open 2021: Darren Clarke, James Kingston Lead After Round 1

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 23, 2021

Stephen Pond/Getty Images

With one round in the books, Darren Clarke and James Kingston lead a tightly packed field in the Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club in England.

Clarke and Kingston shot five under Thursday. Ricardo Gonzalez, Bernhard Langer and Stephen Dodd are all one shot back, and seven golfers are tied for sixth at three under.


Senior Open Leaderboard

T1. Darren Clarke (-5)

T1. James Kingston (-5)

T3. Ricardo Gonzalez (-4)

T3. Bernhard Langer (-4)

T3. Stephen Dodd (-4)

T6. Robert Allenby (-3)

T6. Peter Fowler (-3)

T6. Ernie Els (-3)

T6. Phillip Price (-3)

T6. John Kemp (-3)

T6. Jerry Kelly (-3)

T6. Jose Coceres (-3)

T6. Wes Short Jr. (-3)

Full leaderboard available at EuropeanTour.com

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Clarke got off to a hot start with a pair of birdies through three holes, and he made the turn at four under. He encountered a setback with a bogey on No. 12 but rebounded with back-to-back birdies.

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Masterful touch from <a href="https://twitter.com/DarrenClarke60?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DarrenClarke60</a>! <br><br>He's T10 early at the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex. <a href="https://t.co/N3wDsmA2uP">pic.twitter.com/N3wDsmA2uP</a>

Clarke might be sitting at six under right now if he had chosen to remove the flagstick for this putt:

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Pin in or out debate. 🗣 <a href="https://t.co/NIYHfLeeJr">pic.twitter.com/NIYHfLeeJr</a>

"Sunningdale is one of those golf courses where when you play it, you think you’re going to have lots of chances and you go out and play with a card in your hand, it’s a different golf course," the Northern Irishman told reporters after his round. 

Kingston played a bogey-free round, collecting two birdies on the front nine and three on the back nine.

Nobody has dominated the Senior Open like Langer. The 63-year-old German has four victories to his name and was victorious in two of the last three tournaments. Based on his performance Thursday, he's poised to be in the thick of the title hunt throughout the weekend. 

Things weren't looking too good for Langer around the halfway mark in the opening round. A bogey on No. 11 dropped him to one under before he registered three birdies between Nos. 14 and 17.

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Ideal start for the legend <a href="https://twitter.com/BernhardLanger6?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BernhardLanger6</a>. 👏<br><br>Shares Round 1 lead at Senior Open Championship (-4). <a href="https://t.co/wi313uuzH7">pic.twitter.com/wi313uuzH7</a>

Colin Montgomerie is looking for his first Senior Open triumph. He finished runner-up to Langer in 2014 was third the following year. Entering the 2021 installment, the Scotland native reflected on the absence of an R&A win on his resume.

"Having not won an R&A event, as such, second in The Open to (Tiger) Woods in 2005 and runner-up at the British Amateur to (Jose Maria) Olazabal, I picked real beauties there, didn't I, to come up against, but it would be great to win, obviously," he said, per PGATour.com's Bob McClellan. "We are all here to do that and we all know that if you do happen to win, you know, you get an invite to St. Andrews next year, which would be a real celebration of golf, being the 150th Open. So that's on the radar as well for us all."

The 58-year-old bounced back from a pair of bogeys on the front nine to grab a share of 14th at two under. While he still has some work to do, a Senior Open title isn't out of the question.

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