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Clarke on top of exciting leaderboard after day 1 at Regions Tradition

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

HOOVER – A 5-under par 31 on his front nine at Greystone Golf and Country Club on Thursday, May 6 was enough to help Darren Clarke take a one-shot lead over an exciting and crowded leaderboard following day one at the Regions Tradition.

Clarke, who started his first round on the back nine, birdied 10 and 11 to start his day and then birdied the final three holes of his first nine to get off to an ideal start.

“I hit some good shots. Ball-striking wasn’t quite where I wanted it all day, but hit some really good shots,” Clarke said after his round. “I had a couple good looks at eagle on the par 5s, didn’t make them. All in all, 6-under par is a pretty decent start.”

He made two more birdies on his back nine on the par-5 second and par-3 seventh before bogeying the eighth hole to finish with a 6-under round of 66.

That gave Clarke a one-shot advantage over both Stephen Ames and Jerry Kelly, who opened with rounds of 67.

While Clarke did most of his damage on holes 10-18, it was the front nine that catered to Ames and Kelly. Ames made four bogeys and a bogey on the front side, while Kelly made five birdies and a bogey.

Just behind those three are defending champion Steve Stricker, last week’s winner at the Insperity challenge and former Masters Champion Mike Weir and Alex Cejka all at 4-under.

Cejka was bogey free on his round, while Stricker made five birdies and one bogey during his round. Weir made two bogeys, but totaled six birdies to grab a share of fourth.

Just behind those three in a tie for seventh is a crowded group of seven players at 3-under, including Ernie Else, Paul Goydos, Kirk Triplett, Joe Durant, Tim Herron and Scott Parel.

Bernhard Langer, another defending champion of the tournament, is at 2-under alongside five others, while fan favorites like David Toms and Miguel Angel Jimenez are at 1-under in a tie for 20th.

Jose Maria Olazabal and Chris DiMarco were among a group of eight to finish the opening round at even par, while John Daly was 1-over and Kenny Perry 2-over.

The tournament will resume on Friday morning.

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