Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Big celebrations on Darren Clarke's home turf where locals had kept the faith

Fans at Dungannon Golf Club, Northern Ireland, Darren Clarke's home club, celebrate his Open Championship victory
Fans at Dungannon Golf Club, Northern Ireland, Darren Clarke's home club, celebrate his Open Championship victory
Darren Clarke
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke looks over at the Claret Jug during a press conference after the 2011 Open Championship
Darren Clarke holds the Claret Jug after winning the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke celebrates after making a birdie on the 12th during round three of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland waits with caddy John Mulrooney and Lucas Glover (R) of the United States during the third round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's on July 16, 2011 in Sandwich, England
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke tees off during round three of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
Darren Clarke during the third round during round three of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke during round three of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke stretches before teeing off during round three of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
Lori Moore, Darren Clarke and Alison Campbell at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
The Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Sarah Moore, Ruth Gorman and Charlene McLean
Jessica McCrea, Emma Hughes, Jennifer Carson, Gemma Boyle, Lori Moore and Sasha Gale at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Carla Nugent and Martina McElhatten at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Eve Bannon, Danielle Hibbert and Sean Loughran at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Irene Leahey, Denise Robinson and Mary Martin at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Joanne Smith, Joe Braden and Grainne McGarvey at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Eddie Corcan, John Shannon and Stephen Ramsay at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Christine Murphy, Peter Gilroy and Finola Guinnane at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Sibonguile Mude, Charlotte Sythes and Danielle Wong at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Sarah and Stephanie McQuillan at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Sara McDowell and Tara McLaughlin at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Sophie Calderwood, Grace Kerr and Fiona Kerr at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Jonathan Taylor, Hannah Campbell, Holly Lyons and Carly Campbell at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Jenny Monroe and Sarah Toland at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Male Model of the Year Rob Rea, Newcomer of the Year Fionola Guinnane, Promotional Model of ythe Year Jacqueline Gracey and Model of the Year Ciara McStravick at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Valerie Kirkpatrick, Louise Roe, Alison Campbell and Joleen McKee at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Model of the Year Ciara McStravick with Valerie Kirkpatrick, Joleen McKee, Alison Campbell and Louise Roe at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Male Model of the Year Rob Rea with Valerie Kirkpatrick, Joleen McKee, Alison Campbell and Louise Roe at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Promotional Model of the Year Jacqueline Gracey with Valerie Kirkpatrick, Alison Campbell and Joleen McKee at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Newcomer of the Year Fionola Guinnane with Valerie Kirkpatrick, Alison Campbell and Joleen McKee at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Peter Gilroy at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Sarah Moore, Ruth Forman and Charlene McLean at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Alison Campbell and friends at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Stephanie McGall, Ashleigh Moore and Naomi Sheard at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Judith McAteer, Michael Good and Sophie Harrison at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Emma Murphy, Anna Hansan, Sophie Harrison and Judith McAteer at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Michael Good, Andrew Bree and Kyle Anderson at the Alison Campbell Modelling Agency Christmas Party at Cafe Vaudeville. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com
Alison Campbell at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards
Darren Clarke with Alison Campbell. 'Everything is fantastic at the moment,' he says

The course at Dungannon Golf Club was deserted yesterday, but it wasn't the wind and rain that drove members indoors.

There was much more important business at hand, as the club's most famous son Darren Clarke finally won the major his talent had promised, but fate had appeared to deny him.

Throughout the afternoon Dungannon's small and normally sedate members' bar became steadily more packed -- and more raucous. The cheers grew louder as each completed hole brought Clarke closer to the biggest win of his 21-year career.

By the time Clarke walked on to the 18th green at Royal St George's in Sandwich, England, champagne corks were being popped back in Dungannon.

At the centre of celebrations and dressed in one of Clarke's own golf shirts was family friend Raymond "Hackney" McGerr. Yesterday's Open Championship was the first one he had missed attending in 20 years. But with a laugh, he insisted he was glad not to be there.

"Maybe I should have stayed away from the rest of them, this one is special to all of us, it's very, very special to me and my family," he told the Irish Independent.

"I've known Darren since he was five years of age. I've played golf with him and knocked about with him.

"He was always in fancy cars and used to tell me 'You need to change the wheels on that car, that's a beautiful car, but you need to change your wheels.'"

Clarke turned pro at the age of 21, but it wasn't until yesterday -- a full 21 years later -- that he won his first major. In the intervening years he came close a number of times, but many people had written off the Ulsterman.

"At 42 years of age it's unbelievable and he's had a few chances so we thought that maybe his day had gone," said Dungannon's Honorary Secretary Sean T Hughes last night.

But for four days this week he has kept his head fairly clear, he played steady golf and the excitement has just built.

"Many had written him off," Mr Hughes said. "But not everyone."

"A lot of people here bet on him at 125-to-1, some people even got him at 150-to1, so a few small bets of £10 (?11.40) have turned in a £1,500 (?1,700) windfall."

Like a lot of people at Dungannon yesterday, Mr Hughes has known Clarke since he was a young boy and has seen him go through good times and bad, none more so than during the loss of his wife Heather, who died from cancer at the age of 39 in 2006.

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