Valspar Championship: Darren Clarke fires eventful 71 in Florida

Darren Clarke

Former Open champion Darren Clarke showed signs of a return to better form before having to be content with an opening level-par 71 at the Valspar Championship in Florida.

A chip-in and further up and downs helped Clarke share the lead on three under after 10 holes before he suffered a double bogey at the 12th.

Clarke, 45, then dropped a further shot at the last.

Matt Every and Pat Perez, Greg Chalmers and Danny Lee lead on three under.

Clarke, who has lost seven inches off his waistline after following a strict fitness regime in recent months, birdied the first before giving the shot back immediately at the next.

However, the 2011 Open champion pitched in for birdie at the sixth and then rolled in a 20 footer for another gain at the next.

The Northern Irishman got up and down at both and eighth and ninth to stay on two under before rolling in another 15-foot birdie effort at the 10th.

However, he gave back two shots on the 12th as a missed fairway and wayward approach was followed by a duffed chip.

Clarke regrouped to par the next five holes before bogeying the 18th.