Defending Open champion Clarke struggles to 76
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Defending Open champion Clarke struggles to 76

Defending Open champion Darren Clarke could not rekindle the magic on Thursday which brought the Claret Jug to his hands for the first time last year at Royal St. Georges.

Clarke shot 6-over 76 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes to sit near the bottom of the field on Day 1 at the Open Championship.

"I don't think you could publish my thoughts right now," said Clarke, according to Sky Sports. "It's The Open - the biggest and best championship in the world - and the course is so benign, but I couldn't save or gain any momentum. It was a bad day at the office."

The Ulsterman made just one birdie on the day, at the par-4 10th, but otherwise made seven bogeys. Clarke leaked shots with consecutive bogeys at the second and third, followed later by three in a row from Nos. 14-16.

Walking up 18, Clarke said he was dumbfounded by his success at Sandwich last year.

"Yeah, coming up the last," he said he was thinking, "How the beep did I manage to win this?"

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