The first thing that happened when Darren Clarke walked through the door of the Dunluce Room in Royal Portrush golf club on Tuesday afternoon told a story.
The first thing that Darren Clarke did when he sat down at the top table in the same room told you all you need to know about the heart of this champion golfer.
As Clarke’s ample frame – the WeightWatcher’s diet is officially on long term hold now – came through the door, the shutters were lifted and the bar opened. It was an apt and timely gesture just days after a Major win that has kept many Irish bars open.
As he sat himself into a comfortable chair, in front of a room full of reporters, family and friends, the man in charge of proceedings told us that Darren had a very special presentation to make. Indeed he did.
Before anyone slapped him on the back from the club he now calls home, Darren Clarke presented his gold medal from last Sunday’s British Open win to Royal Portrush golf club.
He wants the medal to sit in the trophy cabinet that attracts the eye in the hallways of this great links course. He wants his medal to sit alongside that of Fred Daly, the Portrush member who won Ireland’s first Major in 1947.
“If I keep it, I will have a good look at it then put it away in a drawer for years to come so I want the club to have it and I want the people who come to play this great course to get the chance to see it sit proudly there alongside Fred Daly’s medal,” explained Clarke.
The gesture was magnanimous and appreciated. It also sparked a story from the same hallways some weeks earlier when Darren’s sons Conor and Tyrone, now resident with their father in Portrush, admired the same medal.
“I think Dad has one of them,” remarked one of the junior Clarkes, probably Conor who has a penchant for John Daly style trousers as he learns the game on these famous links.
A member corrected him. “Your dad hasn’t got one yet but he might have very soon,” suggested the local.
“Thankfully, I have one now,” said a beaming Clarke as he handed said medal over to the grateful club captain Philip Tweedy.
In truth, Darren Clarke could do no wrong as he became the third Ulsterman in 13 months to bring a Major home to Northern Ireland.
Graeme McDowell was in the audience as Clarke spoke of the raw emotion of his win on Sunday, the 2010 US Open champion clapping practically every word from his great friend’s mouth.
As a local journalist asked where Northern Ireland now stood in world golf, another told a story that has been doing the rounds of late.
“There’s a suggestion that the Ryder Cup will in future feature America against Northern Ireland,” claimed the reporter to the amusement of all gathered to pay homage to the 2011 British Open champion, Claret Jug by his side.
“I’ve only one problem with that – how big a lead do we have to give them before we stand on the first tee,” laughed Clarke.
The way he’s going at the moment, Darren Clarke could probably take on the USA on his own. Sunday at Sandwich proved it. Tuesday in Portrush confirmed it.