'Normal man' Darren Clarke celebrates his moment of glory

“There’s not many airs and graces about me,” said Darren Clarke after one of golf’s great moments yesterday.

Darren Clarke has a moment to himself after his Open triumph
Darren Clarke has a moment to himself after his Open triumph

DARREN CLARKE WAKES up a true winner this morning after a sensational and emotional win at the British Open at Royal St Georges yesterday evening.

This was not the kind of awe-inspiring performance that Rory McIlroy produced at the US Open a few weeks ago but it was awe-inspiring in a different way.

Before this weekend, the 42-year-old Dungannon man had not contended a major in ten years, he wasn’t even eligible for the last three majors. He’d even dropped out of the top 100 in the world.

But Clarke’s three-shot victory in The Open was met with unending applause, the loudest saved for the closing ceremony when he was introduced as the champion golfer of the year.

He told AP afterwards:

I’m a bit of a normal bloke, aren’t I? I like to go to the pub and have a pint, fly home, buy everybody a drink, just normal. There’s not many airs and graces about me.

I was a little bit more difficult to deal with in my earlier years, and I’ve mellowed some. Just a little bit. But I’m just a normal guy playing golf, having a bit of fun.

Later, speaking to the BBC he dedicated the win to his children and his late wife Heather who died in 2006 after losing her battle with cancer:

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. It’s for the kids. They played golf at Royal Portrush this morning and were watching on TV. Heather would probably be saying, ‘I told you so’.

The tributes and congratulations have been flowing in.

On Twitter, fellow major winners and compatriots Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy hailed the man affectionately known as ‘Clarkey’ who ensured Northern Ireland’s status as golf capital of the world.

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Even the Taoiseach is hoping to capitalise on the success, saying in a congratulatory statement last night: “Darren’s victory further reinforces the status of Irish golf internationally. I am hopeful that this run of success can lead to the Irish Open securing a major sponsor in the longer term showcasing Ireland as one of the world’s foremost golfing destinations.”

Relive the British Open 2011:

- additional reporting from AP

As it happened: Clarke wins the British Open >

Reaction: What Twitter thought of Clarke’s triumph >

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Hugh O'Connell

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