Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Darren putts it on the line

Darren Clarke is a true Northern Irish hero. And that isn't about citing the tournaments won, the money earned, the official public recognitions and awards. No, it's about earning a place in our hearts, of being - at heart and for good or for ill - "one of us".

Which is why we have always taken larger-than-life figures to our hearts - whether it's the People's Champion, Alex Higgins, the Belfast boy George Best or even the curmudgeonly Van Morrison.

We like to think - underneath our surface dourness - that we are a colourful people at heart. So I'm sure many were thrilled to read Clarke's revelations in his autobiography, where he confessed to enjoying the high life. Whether it be owning Lamborghinis, Ferraris, sharing a private jet, or even being fond (but not overly fond) of the black stuff and red wine, he comes across as a man with the courage to admit he enjoys life.

He writes: "I've been materialistic because I've been in a position to afford the things I've dreamt of. I had pictures of Lamborghinis on my bedroom wall as I was growing up, and when I could afford one I bought one.

"I've been very good to myself, but I also take great pleasure in helping out my friends."

He is also disarmingly candid about his failings: the drive, the ambition which damaged relationships - including that with his late wife Heather.

And he is man enough to admit that he has learned a lot from his new wife, businesswoman Alison, who runs a modelling agency. Darren Clarke comes across as someone you'd like to know - and not because of his sporting fame.

Tiger Woods or Darren Clarke? I know which one most of us would prefer to spend an hour or two with. Big, colourful, honest, kind and fun - no wonder we're proud Darren Clarke is one of our own.

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