Darren Clarke has won golf’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
The Open is Clarke’s first Major win
Surviving the storms, destroying the field and making sporting history, Darren Clarke unleashed a torrent of celebration at The Open at Sandwich and in his native Northern Ireland.
After 19 unsuccessful attempts, more than any other champion, the 42-year-old finally lifted the famous claret jug – the oldest man to do so since 1967.
Following Graeme McDowell at last year’s US Open and Rory McIlroy at the same event last month, Clarke’s popular triumph completed an unprecedented treble for Northern Ireland.
“Golf capital of the world”, tweeted McIlroy after his own disappointing final round of 73 left him 12 shots behind his fellow countryman.
Clarke has been through bigger tests than winning golf tournaments.
Being a good dad to his two boys was more important than his career when his wife Heather died of cancer five years ago.
The world watched his tears six weeks later when he inspired Europe to a Ryder Cup victory in Dublin.
No one would have been surprised if Clarke had lost his composure at the trophy presentation at Royal St George’s on the Kent coast.
Darren Clarke celebrates his win
Instead he remained as calm as he had appeared throughout his final round of 70, leaving him three shots clear of Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.
“It’s been a long and bumpy road,” Clarke said. “I have had some good things happen to me and some bad things, but I’ve had so much support from an awful lot of people. I’d like to thank my parents and my fiancee Alison, and there’s someone up there watching as well. To everybody, thank you very much.”
The first British winner since 1999, Clarke began the tournament as a 200-1 outsider and ranked 111 in the world. He ended it with a first prize of £900,000 – and a dream fulfilled.
He said he was preparing for a “very, very long” celebration.
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