Clarke tipped for BBC Sports Personality Award
Ryder Cup hero Darren Clarke has emerged as the bookies' favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for 2006.
The Northern Irishman was a key performer for the European team which convincingly beat the USA at the K Club near Dublin, competing with distinction just six weeks after his wife Heather lost her battle with cancer.
The 38-year-old is now 1/2 favourite with William Hill to top the end-of-year poll, while the bookmaker lists showjumper Zara Phillips as second favourite at 11/4 after she won gold at the World Equestrian Games.
Andy Murray is third at 9/1 after breaking into the top 20 in the world in tennis, with England's new cricketing cult hero Monty Panesar 16/1.
William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe told PA Sport: ``Darren Clarke's emotional roller-coaster ride through the Ryder Cup has captured the imagination of punters - who are not usually noted for allowing sentiment to influence their betting decisions.
``But Darren was a 5/1 chance when the Ryder Cup got under way and was steadily backed down throughout the event.
``By Sunday he was down to 3/1 and as soon as the winning putt dropped our phones started ringing madly with people wanting to back him. We have taken bets of up to €4,000 a time for him, and at the moment he is the only person people want to back. There won't be a dry eye in the studio if he does.''