Shane Lowry paired with Major pair Spieth and Rose
Five of the six Irish players in the field have been handed early-late starts on Thursday and Friday
Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington talk during practice at Royal Troon. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
Indeed, five of the six Irish players in the field have been handed early-late starts on Thursday and Friday: Darren Clarke tees off at 7.41am in the first round, with Pádraig Harrington (8.25am), Paul Dunne (8.36am), Lowry (9.03am) and Rory McIlroy (9.36) all getting their first rounds under way with morning starts. Only Graeme McDowell, who tees off at 1.15pm on Thursday, has a late-early draw.
Although Clarke’s primary focus these days is on the Ryder Cup, an old affinity with the Troon links – he was runner-up behind Justin Leonard in 1997 and finished 11th behind Todd Hamilton in 2004 – has brought with it renewed hope.
“I’m thinking about it all the time . . . the competitor in me still hates going out and playing awful. If there’s a type of golf course I can compete on, it would be links,” said Clarke, who has been working on “trying not to get ahead of my body”.
He explained: “I’ve been moving my spine angle forward and I’ve had to move back and collect myself, that’s why I’ve been struggling for a while. Now I’m back on links it’s about keeping my Adam’s Apple in position so I can get my ball trajectory going.
Harrington has been grouped with Louis Oosthuizen and Jamie Donaldson for the opening two rounds, and Dunne, who shared the lead going into the final round at St Andrews last year, has two Americans – Scott Piercy and Jamie Lovemark – for company.