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Jubilant Darren Clarke flies home ... and buys passengers a drink

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Darren Clarke is glad to be living back in Portrush again

Darren Clarke is glad to be living back in Portrush again

Darren Clarke is glad to be living back in Portrush again

Darren Clarke is loving living in Northern Ireland again — so much so that he just couldn’t wait to get home after his victory in the Iberdrola Open in Majorca on Sunday.

A man more used to private jets dashed to the airport straight after his win and managed to get a seat on the easyJet flight from Palma to Belfast on Sunday night — and bought all his fellow passengers a drink.

“I had a very new experience. I flew back home on easyJet,” smiled Clarke.

“My good friend (world number one) Lee Westwood laughed when he heard.”

And after a first tournament triumph in three years, Clarke was in the mood to party.

“It was just one of those things. I didn't feel like having a drink on my own so I decided to buy everyone on the plane a drink. And all the passengers said thank you very much.

“We all had a good laugh on the way home, and I certainly had a very sore head on Monday morning.

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“Myself and (fellow Irish professional) Shane Lowry were on the same flight home.

“It was a very enjoyable flight,” he laughed. The 42-year-old’s victory — worth a cool €166,660 (£145,781) — at the Iberdrola tournament was his first big win since the 2008 KLM Open.

He admitted his build-up to last week’s tournament had been different from usual.

But it wasn’t exactly extra hours at the driving range, more practice on the putting green or workouts in the gym.

Instead, the burly Ulsterman spent three weeks relaxing in the Bahamas.

“I'm not quite at my athletic best at the moment,” he smiled. “I had a few weeks away with the kids and we were eating and drinking too much.”

Clarke — who is engaged to former Miss Northern Ireland Alison Campbell — has been based in Portrush since last August, when he moved with his sons Tyrone (12) and Conor (9) back home from Surrey.

“I’ve been living at home since last August and it’s great. I’m loving being at home. My two boys are loving it and they’re getting to play a bit of golf at Royal Portrush.

“So it’s brilliant — we are all loving it,” he added.

Clarke will forever be remembered for his heroics in the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club near Dublin when he inspired Europe to victory over the USA just weeks after the tragic death of his wife Heather from cancer.

Profile

Dungannon native Darren Clarke has won many fans with his passionate play and dedicated approach to the game.

In 2002 he became the first player to win the English Open three times and in 2003 became the first player apart from Tiger Woods to capture more than one World Golf Championship title.

He set up his own Darren Clarke Foundation, which helps further the development of junior golf in Ireland, and also now raises money for Breast Cancer Awareness after his wife Heather died of the disease.


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