Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

We’ll take on US on our own, jokes Darren Clarke

British Open Championship winner Darren Clarke returns to his adopted hometown club, Royal Portrush

Darren Clarke joked that the next Ryder Cup should feature America against Northern Ireland!

And Clarke admits it’s difficult to explain the success of the province, which has seen him join Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in winning a major each in the space of little over a year.

“It’s just incredible. I can’t explain it,” he said.

“The three of us gave ourselves opportunities and eventually we pulled through.

“I know either G-Mac or Rory put on Twitter ‘Welcome to the golf capital of the world!’

“G-Mac and Rory are fantastic ambassadors for Northern Ireland and I feel honoured and privileged to join them as a major champion.

“The other two lads don’t quite partake in as much Guinness as I do, though!” he laughed. “For our little, small country to do what we have done is just incredible.

“Shortly after Rory won the US Open unfortunately there was rioting on the streets of Belfast.

“In the past people have had a very one-sided view of what goes on here but 99.9 per cent of the people you meet are genuine, honest, friendly people. That’s what we are like.

“We have some of the finest golf courses in the world here and let’s hope the success of G-Mac, Rory and myself will tempt more people to visit here. We are a very welcoming little country.”

And Clarke thanked all those who sent messages of support following his Open triumph.

“I received lots of messages of support from all sorts of different people — a lot of the messages brought tears to my eyes.

“It’s nice that (sons) Tyrone and Connor can now say their dad is Open champion.

“The two boys are used to me travelling round the world.

“I always try to make sure that I am not away for more than three weeks at a time, though.

“I lived in London for a long time and I used to go home, close my big gates behind me and didn’t go out. I don’t do that here.

“I may not always have been the easiest guy to interview or talk to in the past but I am a little bit older now and more comfortable with doing what I need to do.”

He added: “If I were to get in any way above my station here, I have good friends who would give me a clip round the ear.

“So there’s no chance I will get carried away.”