Ulster golf duo Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke have been rewarded for their sensational victories in 2011 – by the Queen of England.
The Northern Ireland stars have both been named in the Queen’s annual honors list.
US Open champion McIlroy has been named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by the British Monarch.
British Open winner Clarke, 20 years older than McIlroy at 42, is to become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
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McIlroy learnt of his latest distinction as he enjoyed a holiday in Thailand with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, the world’s number one tennis player.
The Queen dedicated both awards to the Ulstermen for their services to sport.
“I am delighted to be named in the queen’s New Year Honours List. It is quite humbling to be included in such a list of worthy recipients,” said McIlroy, the youngest US Open champion in 88 years.
“Many people on the honours list have made huge personal sacrifices and contributed significantly to society. I feel very fortunate to be in their company.”
Clarke said: “It is a great honour and a fantastic way to end a great year. I am very proud for me and my family.”