Sport

Local favourite Darren Clarke makes bright Open start at damp Portrush

Local favourite Darren Clarke makes bright Open start at damp Portrush

Local favourite Darren Clarke made a bright start to the British Open Championship at Royal Portrush on Thursday as crowds flocked to the first major in Northern Ireland since 1951.

Clarke, who lives in Portrush, collected three birdies from the opening five holes but a bogey on the par-five seventh tempered his impressive start.

Rory McIlroy, another player who can expect plenty of backing from the sold-out crowd, was due to tee off at 10.09 am local time (0909 GMT) in a group with 2019 US Open winner Gary Woodland and England's Paul Casey.

Despite damp weather for a second successive day, fans arrived early and in numbers for the sold-out tournament, with the expected total attendance of 237,750 making it the best attended British Open outside of St Andrews in Scotland.