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Darren Clarke: Ex-Open champion three behind on senior debut in US

Darren Clarke’s career has included 14 European Tour wins

Darren Clarke made an encouraging start to his senior career as a four-under-par 68 left him three off the pace at the Boeing Classic in the US.

The Northern Irishman, who turned 50 on 14 August, dropped only one shot in a five-birdie round at the Champions Tour event in Snoqualmie Ridge near Seattle.

US players Kent Jones, Scott Parel and Tom Pernice Jr lead after firing 65s.

Clarke’s round left him sharing 11th place in a group which includes Bernhard Langer and Jesper Parnevik.

The Dungannon native started his round with a birdie and another gain left him two under at the turn.

After bogeying the 13th, Clarke produced a strong finish as he birdied three of his final four holes – including a four at the par-five 18th.

Clarke, whose career has included 14 European Tour titles and three PGA Tour victories, has not won since clinching the 2011 Open and his best finish in 2018 is a share of 61st at the Oman Open in February.

The 2016 European Ryder Cup captain is 262nd in this year’s Race to Dubai and his world ranking has slipped to 2,056th.

His playing partners on Friday were another Champions Tour debutant Chris DiMarco who opened with a 74 and Fred Couples who fired a 71.

Recent Senior Open winner Miguel Angel Jimenez is sharing seventh spot after a 67 with England’s Paul Broadhurst in the group including Couples on 71 and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie eight off the pace after a 73.