THE FINAL CARD had three ugly numbers embossed in pen on his scorecard but Alan Dunbar should not be too displeased with his efforts after his Open debut.
The 22-year-old from Rathmore in Northern Ireland signed off for a round of 75 that contained two birdies and 13 pars.
However, he double bogeyed the 11th and 15th and carded a disastrous triple-bogey 7 on sixth hole.
An errand tee shot found the rough and Dunbar was unable to successfully extricate himself before finding one of the many bunkers strewn across Royal Lytham and St Anne’s.
The fact that he bounced back from that triple-bogey to record birdies on the eight and ninth holes goes part of the way to demonstrating the fight instilled in Dunbar’s make-up.
Tough day for Darren
Dunbar will need to eradicate the loose shots that cost him so dearly on Thursday if he is to have a hope of winning the Silver Medal for best amateur at The Open.
He earned his spot in this year’s championship after grinding out a victory in the British Amateur Championship at Royal Troon last month.
Darren Clarke, winner of the Claret Jug last year, was a shot worse off than his young compatriot after completing a round of 76.
The 43-year-old carded three bogeys in his outward nine but gained a shot back with a three on the 10th.
It would prove to be his only birdie of the day as he struggled to stay out of the rough in tepid conditions.
Clarke received a warm reception from the galleries all day and finished with two pars after three bogeys from holes 14 to 16 dropped him down the leaderboard. Speaking afterwards, he said:
I don’t think you could publish my thoughts right now. It’s The Open, the biggest and best championship in the world, and the course is so benign, but I couldn’t save or gain any momentum. It was a bad day at the office.
‘The crowds were great and showed their support, but unfortunately I couldn’t reciprocate.”
Michael Hoey edged out Robert Rock for the dubious honour of worst round of the day.
Hoey, who won the British Amateur Championship in 2001, birdied the last hole but still finished at +9.