Clarke cards second 70

Darren Clarke was reminded of his youth as he battled his way to a second successive 70 in The Open at St Andrews.

“It was a time for knocking shots down and chasing the ball up – and that’s what I grew up doing,” said the 41-year-old Irishman, one of 30 players back on the course at 6.30am today to complete his second round.

“It was obviously very tough, but that’s links golf and I’ve played in a lot worse. We’ve had some brutal Dunhill Links here in October.”

Clarke, who qualified for the event by finishing second in the Scottish Open last Sunday, resumed on the 16th tee hoping to find it was downwind.

Instead it was into a stiff breeze, but he two-putted from 45 feet for par there and hit a perfect drive down the dangerous 17th.

From there, however, the former Ryder Cup star turned his four-iron into the Road Bunker and after splashing out to 12 feet missed the putt.

A birdie on the last, which came thanks to a superb chip-and-run to five feet, got him back to four under, though, and Clarke was delighted to have kept his chances alive.

Not that he was taking it for granted that South African stablemate Louis Oosthuizen, five clear overnight at 12 under, would come back to the field.

“Louis is a fantastic talent and one of the best ball-strikers out here. He’s been on the edge of doing this for quite some time. Leading The Open is tough, as I know, but it’s what you play for.”

Back in 1997 at Royal Troon Clarke led by three at halfway, but two closing rounds of 71 left him in joint second place three behind Justin Leonard.

His second round this time contained the sublime and the ridiculous.

During the worst of the weather he chipped up to six feet on the long fifth, but one of the 40mph gusts blew his ball 20 feet from the hole and he three-putted for a six.

When he came back to the same double green on the 13th he made a putt of around 90 feet for birdie.

“Maybe that’s the secret – not being able to see the hole,” he joked. “I have no idea how long it was. I was just trying to get it somewhere close.”

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