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Northern Ireland, world golf capital

By James Corrigan

Pinch yourself and insist it's not a dream. It isn't. Darren Clarke - yes, 42-year-old, overweight Darren Clarke - is Open Champion.

Not only that, but he's the third Ulsterman to bag a Major in 13 months. Unbelievable!

No wonder his famous young protégé Rory McIlroy - who recently succeeded compatriot Graeme McDowell as US Open champion - was tweeting last night that Northern Ireland was now 'golf capital of the world.'

Dungannon veteran Clarke's stunning and fully deserved triumph at Sandwich means that three of the last six Majors have been won by Ulster golfers - all of them born in different decades.

"We're blessed to have obviously two fantastic players in Rory and G-Mac, and I've just come along - the old guy coming along behind them," said a proud, delighted and emotional Clarke last night.

"To have three Major champions from a little small place in a short period of time; well, it's just incredible."

He added: "There was a party for G-Mac when he won the US Open and a party for Rory a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure I'll have another one this week - now I've finally won a Major."

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