Senior British Open 2021: Darren Clarke Holds 1-Stroke Lead After Round 2

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 23, 2021

SUNNINGDALE, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland during day two of The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at Sunningdale Golf Club on July 23, 2021 in Sunningdale, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Darren Clarke is halfway to a Senior Open Championship title.

The Northern Irishman shot a three-under 67 in Friday's second round at Sunningdale Golf Club in England to bring his two-round total to eight under.

He is one stroke clear of American Jerry Kelly and Bernhard Langer. The full scoreboard can be found on EuropeanTour.com.

1. Darren Clarke, -8

T2. Jerry Kelly, -7

T2. Bernhard Langer, -7

T4. Ernie Els, -6

T4. Paul Broadhurst, -6

Clarke was tied for first with James Kingston after the opening round, but the latter was nowhere near as consistent in Friday's competition.

In fact, a birdie on No. 1 was the only true bright spot for Kingston throughout the round, as he tallied five bogeys and largely fell out of contention for the title with a four-over 74. The steady play that was on full display in the opening round when the South African didn't register a single bogey and sprinkled in five birdies was nowhere to be seen.

He finds himself seven strokes behind Clarke in a tie for 20th place after the former co-leader had anything but a consistent round himself despite the impressive score.

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Wild Round 2 for leader <a href="https://twitter.com/DarrenClarke60?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DarrenClarke60</a>! <a href="https://t.co/nzFkiVfBNN">pic.twitter.com/nzFkiVfBNN</a>

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Send it in, <a href="https://twitter.com/DarrenClarke60?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DarrenClarke60</a>! <br><br>Finishes with birdie on 18 and leads at the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex. <a href="https://t.co/zhMmIGISZU">pic.twitter.com/zhMmIGISZU</a>

Clarke had four bogeys Friday after finishing with just one Thursday but more than made up for it with seven birdies. That equaled his total number of pars in the second round, further underscoring how up-and-down he was even with the lead and perhaps suggesting the challengers who are right behind him have a chance to make up some ground over the weekend.

It was the stretch from Nos. 13 through 18 that propelled Clarke to the top of the leaderboard.

The 52-year-old notched four birdies and two pars during that stretch after shooting two under during the same six holes in the opening round. If he continues to close at such an effective level, he should find himself in the battle for the championship at the same part of the course on Sunday.

Clarke, a 14-time European Tour winner, is attempting to join Gary Player, Bob Charles and Tom Watson as the only players in the sport's history to win both the British Open and Senior British Open, per Adam Schupak of USA Today.

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Bernhard Langer just hit a 350-yard drive. 🤯<br><br>Not a typo. <a href="https://t.co/4xNkWqCo7b">pic.twitter.com/4xNkWqCo7b</a>

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

From another area code! 😱<a href="https://twitter.com/BernhardLanger6?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BernhardLanger6</a> made this for a share.<a href="https://t.co/o47VOG0k6Q">pic.twitter.com/o47VOG0k6Q</a>

It won't be easy even with the two-round lead, as Langer has won this tournament a record four times and is just one stroke back after shooting a three-under 67 that included an eagle on the first hole.

The last of those titles came when the tournament was last played in 2019, so the 63-year-old German is attempting to chase down Clarke and defend his crown.


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