Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Victory at last for Darren Clarke and his hometown club

Darren Clarke holds the Claret Jug after winning the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
Darren Clarke holds the Claret Jug after winning the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich
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
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

Northern Ireland golfer Darren Clarke yesterday fulfilled a lifetime ambition by winning the 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's at Sandwich in Kent.

His years of efforts to win a major were finally achieved as he successfully fended off American challenges to build on his overnight lead and end with a three-shot victory.

Playing with self-assurance on a blustery and sometimes rainy day, the 42-year-old veteran finished several shots ahead of the US golfers Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Although he has long been a highly successful international player, success in a major had so far eluded him.



His victory extended the remarkable achievements of Northern Ireland golfers, who have scored three major victories in just over a year, Graham McDowell winning last year's US Open and Rory McIlroy repeating the feat a few weeks ago. Already Northern Ireland is being described – tongue-in-cheek – as a "golf superpower".



The result was received ecstatically in Dungannon golf club in Tyrone, where Clarke played as a boy. Although his family may have moved away some time ago, the golfer is still viewed as a local hero and his parents are regarded as the finest of folk. When he won yesterday the roar of triumph was deafening in the members' room, which is festooned with photographs of the golfer and where four of his jackets are displayed on the walls.



At the start of the afternoon, there was perhaps a certain anxiety, but it quickly faded as it became clear he was not about to let slip his overnight lead. Assured by his self-confidence, the men in the lounge relaxed and savoured their pints and the prospect of success.



When American competitors played shots the guys shouted "Bunker, bunker", in the hope they would land in the sand. But it was all good-natured: "Aren't we bad-hearted gets," chuckled one member.



Clarke's shots drew murmurs of appreciation, but as the day wore on the volume grew louder as victory neared. When it eventually came, their cheers and yells drowned out individual voices, merging into a collective shout of joy. Some fists were flung in the air while others banged tables as choruses of "Olé, olé, olé" broke out.



A prominent plaque records that Clarke opened the modern clubhouse in June 2000. His father, Godfrey, was head greenkeeper in Dungannon, while his mother, Hetty, was a skilled player. "They are held in the highest esteem," said the club captain, Joe Cavlin. "Great people, great people."



Member Paul Statham, a council worker, agreed: "They're fabulous people, absolutely fabulous." He described the club: "We're very much informal, and no matter who you are you'll always get a welcome here. Take a look around you – it doesn't matter if you're Catholic, Protestant, Hindu or Jew here, we're all friends. The picture is live and let live – we're all together, it doesn't make a difference."



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