Clarke's year capped with OBE
Few three-inch bogey putts are greeted quite as uproariously as the one which secured the 140th Open Championship for Darren Clarke.
The popular Northern Irishman won a place in hearts around the world last summer as he defied the odds to win the most coveted prize in golf at the age of 42. Now, five months on, he has been recognised in the New Year Honours List with an OBE.
Clarke said: "It is a great honour and a fantastic way to end a great year. I am very proud for me and my family. I have had a fantastic year and this just caps it off. It is a privilege to be recognised with an OBE. It is a lot to take in."
He added: "I could not have envisaged the year I have had. Winning The Open was obviously a dream come true, and it was at the 20th attempt.
"I had chances before and at 42 thought that maybe it was just not to be.
"It was a life-changing moment really and in many ways my feet have not touched the floor since. And now this.
"It reflects everything I have achieved in the game which makes me feel very proud."
Clarke's distinguished career was supposedly in its twilight but he rolled back the years at Royal St George's in Sandwich, Kent, to capture his first major title in July.
None could begrudge his success in what was his 20th attempt at the Open. Clarke touched many when he performed heroically to help Europe win the Ryder Cup in Dublin in 2006, just weeks after the death of his wife Heather following a battle with breast cancer.
His down-to-earth manner, not to mention his fondness for a cigar or a pint, also made him a huge favourite with the public.