Emotional and proud, Clarke welcomes Open back to Portrush

The Open Championship 2019 – Day One – Royal Portrush Golf Club

The Open Championship 2019 – Day One – Royal Portrush Golf Club

"Just one of those God-awful nightmare scenarios that happened today", Duval said. I'm not 24 anymore. "I didn't judge the lies around the greens very well but that's just about getting used to links golf so if I can just sharpen that up, I will be right there". Life changes and moves on. Standing on the range, hitting balls for four or five hours, go play 36, come back, run four or five miles and then go to the gym.

"Those days are gone".

"To be able to have this tournament here again, I think it speaks volumes of where the country and where the people that live here are now". So I have to be realistic about my expectations and hopefully peaking at the right time.

But instead the 2014 Open champion and victor of three more majors, inarguably Northern Ireland's most successful sporting son, doesn't feel anything but goodwill.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy is the favorite, followed by Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Tiger Woods. "I just go out there and play".

Rose: New majors schedule is 'too condensed'
I feel like sometimes if you come in absolutely pure a week or two ahead of time, it can be tricky to keep it going for so long. I'm not experienced enough to really make that judgment but I think the environment helps, no doubt.

The 32-year-old, from Offaly, began the year in 74th place in the world with no exemptions for the majors, but he followed his first victory for four years in Abu Dhabi in January with some good performances, and now stands on the threshold of the top 30. "When I was about to hit my tee-shot, I just thought, "Wow, it's the Open Championship and we are back here in Portrush". But he took a quadruple-bogey 8 on the first hole and then another bogey on the third to put him at 5 over - nine strokes behind leaders Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Alex Noren and Webb Simpson. In hopes of learning the nuances of the track better before the tournament, Woods reached out to Koepka asking if he would like to play a practice round with him.

Woodland's round included four bogeys, one birdie and 13 pars, with the birdie coming on the par-4 fifth hole and bogeys immediately following on holes 6 and 7. "There are too many guys that are playing well, and I'm just not one of them". Woods celebrated by holding out both arms to receive the applause of the crowd, then licked his index finger and raised his arm. The cold breeze off the Atlantic can do damage to Woods' sore back, which he's been fighting throughout the season. When last seen Thursday night, he was heading straight into treatment for everything that ails him.

Trying to fake it with a pieced-together swing in cold, rainy conditions is not a good bet on this golf course.

English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are also among those on three-under, with the latter still looking for his maiden major title in his 25th consecutive British Open appearance.

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