Clarke and Glover Set the Pace
    2011-07-16 12:04:25     Shanghai Daily      Web Editor: Paul
Northern Irishman surprise leader shares the top spot with American as young Lewis falters on day two.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke is the surprise leader at the halfway point at Sandwich.

Royal St George's continued to have the upper hand in the timeless battle between man and golf course yesterday as, despite gorgeous early conditions, low scoring proved difficult and Darren Clarke and Lucas Glover set the clubhouse target at four-under.

Despite some players driving the ball more than 380 yards at times, helped by the dry, hard, bounding fairways, the tough terrain of the south-east coast and the hard-to-read greens kept a grip on the scoring.

Briton Tom Lewis, 20, the surprise joint overnight leader at five-under with Thomas Bjorn after firing the lowest Open round ever by an amateur, found things a bit tougher in the limelight and carded a four-over 74 to slip back into the pack.

Bjorn, out at lunchtime as the wind began to get up after a beautifully benign morning, had a terrible start as he dropped three shots in the first four holes but the Dane hit back with three birdies to return to his overnight score of five-under with seven to play.

Clarke, the long-time flag-bearer for Northern Irish golf, has suddenly seen himself usurped by compatriot US Open winners Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy but the rotund, cigar-smoking 42-year-old carded a second successive 68 that contained five birdies and an eagle but also three bogeys and a double-bogey.

Clarke has been playing plenty of links golf at home recently and is well-placed for another crack at winning his first Major.

"It's an awful long way to go to Sunday but I'm in a position which I'm very pleased to be in, and I want to keep getting better and better and hopefully come Sunday get myself right in the mix," he said.

"I believe the forecast for the weekend is very, very poor, which I quite look forward to. The course is going to play very, very tough. If that's the case then the tournament is still wide open for an awful lot of players."

McDowell may not be one of them though as last year's US Open champion followed his encouraging opening 68 with a shocking seven-over 77, saying later he had lost his confidence, partly as a result of the increased level of expectation he puts on himself following his breakthrough Major win.

Pre-tournament favorite McIlroy, who shot one-over on Thursday in his first round since his US Open success last month, was among the later starters and opened with five pars before birdies at the sixth and seventh took him to one-under for the tournament. He ended his round one-under and now stands on even par.

Early riser Chad Campbell of the US shot a 68 to reach three-under, the same tally as Germany's Martin Kaymer (69).

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