“Fantastic way to end a great year”, says proud Clarke as golfer toasts OBE
Few three-inch bogey putts are greeted quite as uproariously as the one which secured the 140th Open Championship for Darren Clarke.
The popular Northern Irishman won a place in hearts around the world last summer as he defied the odds to win the most coveted prize in golf at the age of 42.
Now, five months on, he has been recognised in the New Year Honours List with an OBE.
Silver lining: Darren Clarke celebrated his maiden major after winning The Open at Sandwich in July
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.”
Clarke”s distinguished career was supposedly in its twilight but he rolled back the years at Royal St George”s in Sandwich, Kent, to capture his first major title in July.
None could begrudge his success in what was his 20th attempt at the Open.
Clarke touched many when he performed heroically to help Europe win the Ryder Cup in Dublin in 2006, just weeks after the death of his wife Heather following a battle with breast cancer.
So proud: Clarke was delighted to have been awarded an OBE in the New Year”s Honours list
His down-to-earth manner, not to mention his fondness for a cigar or a pint, also made him a huge favourite with the public.
His natural talent always suggested he had major titles in him but they seemed to have eluded him.
That changed in 2011 as the weather played into his hands and his experience of links golf in difficult conditions came to the fore.
He held off the challenge of two Americans in four-time major champion Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson on the final day to prevail.
He walked off with the Claret Jug to begin long and hard-earned celebrations.