Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Open champ Darren Clarke keeps his composure after 30-hour party to celebrate his victory

US Open Champions Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell with Open Championship winner Darren Clarke pictured in Portrush
British Open Championship winner Darren Clarke returns to his adopted hometown club, Royal Portrush
Darren Clarke with Alison Campbell. 'Everything is fantastic at the moment,' he says

Smartly dressed in a sharp, black suit and considerably more coherent than in the aftermath of his Major triumph, Darren Clarke certainly seemed to have reaped the benefits of a good night's sleep.

The newly-crowned Open champion looked composed and at ease as he mischievously joked with journalists during a Press conference yesterday.

Just hours earlier, his fiancee Alison Campbell had brought an end to a booze- fuelled party which began minutes after Clarke holed the final putt on the 18th green at Royal St George's on Sunday evening.

The former model marched into the bar at the Bayview hotel at Portballintrae on Monday evening, persuaded Clarke to bring the 30-hour party to a close, and escorted him back home.

Clarke recalled the episode as he described the celebrations which followed his maiden Major.

"I stayed there until I was falling asleep with a mixture of tiredness, excitement and beverages," he said.

"Fortunately, Alison managed to drag me out before I fell asleep." Despite being king of the golfing world, he has vowed not to be swept away by the hype and hysteria which followed Sunday's triumph.

And yesterday was typical Darren Clarke.

Asked about his chances at next month's US PGA - the year's final major - he added: "I think I'll just about be sobered up by that stage."

Later, when it was suggested that next year's Ryder Cup should be contested between the United States and Northern Ireland, he joked: "It depends how many points start we have to give them."

It is that self-deprecation and humour which has made Clarke one of The Open's most popular winners.

So too the tragedy which has been a backdrop to his triumphs on the golf course.

"The hardest thing that I will ever have to face on a golf course was the first tee at the K Club in 2006, so anything else that I ever tried to do will always pale into insignificance to that day," he said in a more reflective moment on this day of celebration.

That appearance had come just weeks after the death of his beloved wife Heather.

Darren Clarke is first and foremost a family man.

His two sons Conor and Tyrone sat at the front, and he referred to them several times.

"It's nice to have Tyrone and Conor look up and see their dad is Open champion."

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