Darren Clarke posted four birdies in his final six holes to take a one-stroke lead into the third round of The Senior Open Presented by Rolex at Sunningdale Golf Club.
The Northern Irishman added a three under par round of 67 to his opening 65 to reach eight under par, one stroke clear of defending champion Bernhard Langer and American Jerry Kelly.
The 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year is keenly aware of his opportunity to earn a spot in the history books this week with the Senior Open title, however he also knows there is still a long way to go before that can become a reality.
“It would be huge,” Clarke said of his chance to become just the fourth player to win both The Open and The Senior Open.
“But you know, we're all long enough in the tooth to know this is only two rounds and a lot of golf to be played yet. I would love to have this trophy sitting behind the Claret Jug. Got to go work on some iron play, my iron play wasn't there especially around the front nine today but other than that drove the ball well. Really in the mix come Sunday afternoon and would love to improve.”
Clarke started well with birdies at the first and the third, but three bogeys in a row from the sixth threatened to derail his round. However, he bounced back with five birdies and a single dropped shot in his final ten holes to ensure he would be the man to catch after 36 holes.
“I got a couple of birdies on the first three holes and made some poor swings, and last few, hanging in there and make something good swings, and just made good swings all the way coming in and kept giving myself opportunities,” he said.
“I’m pleased that I finished on eight under because the wind was swirling about a little bit.”
Clarke’s playing partner Ernie Els shares fourth place with two-time Senior Major Champion Paul Broadhurst on six under par, with the Englishman’s five under par round of 65 the joint-low round of the day.
Four players share sixth place on four under par including 1991 Masters Champion Ian Woosnam, 2018 Senior Open winner Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Sweden's Jarmo Sandelin and Japan's Yoshinobu Tsukada.
The cut fell at five over par, with 79 players surviving to compete over the weekend in Berkshire.