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Darren Clarke - Open Champion

By: Adam Smith | Tue 19 Jul 2011

“It may be the only major that I win, it may not be the only major that I win, but at least I've gone out there today and did my best, and my best was good enough to win.”

Words from Darren ClarkeMajor Winner – It may have taken him 54 goes at attempting to lift one of golf’s four most treasured prizes but as he said at least he got there in the end.

Oldest Open champion since Roberto Di Vicenzo, who was 44, in 1967 and oldest major winner since Ben Crenshaw's 1995 Masters victory at the age of 43 golf has once again proved that age is no barrier. Tom Watson proved that two years ago and even carries on doing it today and then on the other end of the scale his namesake Tom Lewis provided the Sandwich crowd a local hero to be proud of and I’m sure it won’t be the last we hear from him.

But at Royal St.Georges on Sunday afternoon I think there was one man who everybody wanted to win. Some said he may buckle under the pressure grew and with Phil Mickelson on a front-nine charge there was every possibility. But he remained cool and calm and within himself he knew he could win, he just had to get across the finish line.

As a man and in his own words he has ‘mellowed’ as he’s got older. Personally tragedy has certainly helped changed the man that could be again in his own words ‘difficult to deal with at times’.

His late wife Heather died in 2006 after an on-going battle with cancer and only a month later Clarke proved what a player and what a person he is by repaying Ian Woosnam’s faith in him by going on to win three points out of three in the Ryder Cup. The captains pick would eventually break down and shed a tear on the 16th green after his 3&2 victory over Zach Johnson something which not just in Ireland but all over the golfing world could not begrudge or indeed hold back the tears themselves.

Since then he has dedicated his life to son’s Tyrone and Conor even with his golf game suffering he put them first. Late last year he moved back to Northern Ireland something which he has said helped him as a person and also his golf.

A recent return to form was capped off back in May when he won the Iberdrola Open in Spain.

The 42-year-old from Dungannon follows in the footsteps of fellow Northern Irishmen Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy in being major champion and there are calls to take the Open back over the Irish Sea. Royal Portrush last hosted the Open for the only time back in 1951 and after the emergence of these Majors winners within the past year there will be more calls for it to be taken back.

Clarke’s three-shot victory is probably the most popular of modern times cheered all the way on the course and adored off it he says he’s just another ordinary bloke:

“I like a drink; I Like a smoke and I’ll go home and buy everyone a drink just like any normal day.”

And drink he most certainly will, He’s back in action at the Irish Open at the end of July but he’s not promising what sort of state he’s going to be in.

"I may not be sober for the Irish Open, but I will be in Killarney. Clarke Said,

"It's pretty amazing right now, to tell you the truth. It's been a dream since I've been a kid to win the Open, like any kid's dream is, and I'm able to do it, which just feels incredible."

The way he spoke about his kids is one of softness and compassion and like any father he wanted to make them proud and everything he’s done he’s done for them.

He dedicated his victory to his children who were back at Portrush to watch the drama unfold but there was also someone else who he thought of during the day:

"There's obviously somebody watching from up there and I know she'd be very proud. But I think she'd be more proud of my two boys.

"They played golf at Royal Portrush this morning and were watching on TV. Heather would probably be saying, 'I told you so'."

He has already said he doesn’t want to sit back on his win and settle for just one major. The Ulsterman will be going all out in Atlanta in August at the USPGA to claim another Major.

But for now Clarke will celebrate the biggest win of his career in the only way he knows how...with a smile on his face and a pint of Guinness in his hand.


The oldest & most prestigious major, a trip to The Open is a must for every golf fan. From tickets and transfers to hospitality & golf, Golfbreaks.com can build the perfect package to help you experience The Open in style.

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