Round One Underway At Royal Portrush

The 148th Open Championship got underway this morning as Northern Ireland man Darren Clarke teed off at 6.35am.

Following days of practice, the serious action begun at the Dunluce course, with the grandstands packed to watch the 2011 winner and local favourite launch his bid.

Clarke appeared pleased as he made his way to the second tee after holing a birdie putt on the first, with many hailing it a fairy tale start for the Dungannon man.

Ahead of his opening round, he discussed the honour of taking the first shot: "It's Royal Portrush, it's the first time it has been here for 68 years and I gladly accepted," Clarke said. "Sometimes it can also be a good draw teeing off so early."

Another local golfer, Graeme McDowell is also on the course after teeing off at 9.14am with 2016 winner Henrik Stenson and American Xander Schauffele, who finished joint second at Carnoustie last year.
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Three-time champion Tiger Woods, who won his 15th major at the Masters in April, is out at 3.10pm.

Woods will play alongside his Ryder Cup team-mate Patrick Reed and England's Matt Wallace, and the reigning Masters champion heaped praise on the County Antrim course.

"It's an unbelievable golf course," Woods said at a press conference this week. "It's amazing that (The Open) hasn't been here in such a long period of time. This is just a wonderful golf course.

"It can play so many different ways. It depends on the wind, what it does.

"Some of the bunkers here, you wonder why in the hell is it there. And then a switch in wind and all of a sudden it's in play."

Rory McIlroy, who has won four majors already, has a wealth of experience at Portrush after setting the course record of 61 as a 16-year-old. He also teed off on the course that sweeps the North Coast shoreline at 10.09am this morning, playing alongside US Open winner Gary Woodland and Paul Casey.


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