Darren Clarke wins British Open title in spectacular display
Continues amazing Northern Ireland wins in major championships
Darren Clarke had a smile on his face on a golf course again on Sunday afternoon – as he finally lifted the Claret Jug and the British Open title at Royal St George’s in one of the great stories of Irish sport.
Five years after the Irish nation shed tears with Clarke at the K Club’s Ryder Cup, just weeks after the death of his wife Heather to cancer, big Darren won his first Major.
Clarke followed his close friends Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington into the record books as a Major winner with a three shot triumph at Sandwich.
His win was worth almost a million and a half dollars in prize money alone – and he banked a $3million bonus from clothing sponsors Dunlop for his first Major triumph.
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It was fully deserved as Clarke led from start to finish on the final day of his 20th Open.
The highlight of his opening nine holes was a quite brilliant eagle on the par five seventh as he went to the turn.
He then held his composure as the raging winds and scattered showers battered the best golfers in the world and one by one the challengers from both sides of the Atlantic fell by the wayside as only four players finished under par.
Phil Mickelson had a peek at the winner’s enclosure with a brilliant 30 shots on the front nine then collapsed on the run for home as he finished on two under and alongside Dustin Johnson in joint second.
Johnson was on Clarke’s tail until he out his second into the out of bounds on the 14th and the Ulsterman extended his lead to three shots with four to play before he sealed the deal without a blemish.
The 42-year-old Clarke was greeted like the people’s champion by the huge galleries on every one of those 70 shots in the final round as he made his way slowly but surely to the 18th hole coronation.
Now back living in his native Northern Ireland and engaged to former model Alison Campbell, Clarke finally tasted that Major Magic as Northern Ireland celebrated a third major in just 13 months.
Not even a bogey five on the 18th and a level par 70 could dampen Clarke’s celebrations on the final green as he threw his arms to the heavens.
Manager Chubby Chandler then burst into tears as he hugged Clarke on the side of the 18th green before the trophy presentation.
Speaking to the BBC straight after the final putt of the 2011 Open Championship, Clarke revealed that his sons were watching at home in Portrush after an early morning round at the world famous links he now lives beside.
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