BERKSHIRE, England — Darren Clarke shot a 5-under 65 on Thursday at Sunningdale for a share of the Senior British Open lead with James Kingston.
Clarke had six birdies and a bogey on the Old Course in the final senior major championship of the year. The 52-year-old from Northern Ireland won the British Open in 2011 at Royal St. George’s.
“I played smart around here,” Clarke said. “I hit away from the flags to the middle of the greens and gave myself some chances, and kept giving myself chances there in the last few holes. Didn’t make anything at the end, but just played smart. I think the winner is going to have to play smart this week.”
Kingston, from South Africa, had a bogey-free round. He was recently hospitalized because of COVID-19.
“I feel like I’ve been a little unprepared,” Kingston said. “I was down with COVID and in hospital or whatever, so I don’t think my preparation coming into this week is exactly what I would have liked. But when you get to a place like this and you like the golf course, it seems to just sneak into your game, and I love what I see out there.”
Defending champion Bernhard Langer was a stroke back with Ricardo Gonzalez and Stephen Dodd. The 63-year-old Langer won in 2019 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for his fourth victory in the event. The 2020 tournament was canceled.
Ernie Els was at 67 with Jerry Kelly, Jose Coceres, Wes Short Jr., Robert Allenby, Peter Fowler and Phillip Price.
Jim Furyk, the U.S, Senior Open winner two weeks ago in Omaha, Nebraska, closed with a double bogey for a 70.