LYTHAM ST ANNES, England - Defending champion Darren Clarke was disgusted with himself after sliding to a six-over 76 in the opening round of the British Open on Thursday.
Clarke's face lit up when he drilled a long iron to within 10 feet of the flag at the par-three first but he missed his birdie putt and it was all downhill from there.
“I don't think you could publish my thoughts right now,” the 43-year-old Northern Irishman told reporters. “I played poorly and I putted worse.
“It was disappointing because in practice I hit it really, really well. But what can I do? I tried my best on every shot and unfortunately it wasn't there again today.
“I'm basically disgusted with myself.”
Clarke, who claimed his first major victory at Sandwich 12 months ago, was angry that he failed to capitalise on a calm, wind-free day on a north-west coast of England that has been battered by rain in recent weeks.
“The Open championship is the biggest and best tournament in the world,” he said. “The course is so benign, if you hit good shots out there you're going to get rewarded.
“I wasn't able to make any putts at all to save anything, to save any momentum or gain any momentum. That's it, bad day at the office.”
Clarke said he was okay off the tee but the rest of his game was completely off.
“I've been hitting it well on the practice range but I went out there and couldn't do it,” he added.
“I started hitting it in the bunkers. Even though my strike was good, I was starting too many shots right of my target and I couldn't quite figure out a way to get it back on line again.
“Couple that with not holing any putts at all, I think of two single putts, one was from a foot and one from three foot.
“I was probably coming up the last thinking how the bleep did I manage to win this last year?”. – Reuters