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Tiger Woods text messages gave Darren Clarke the drive to be a champion

By James Corrigan

So much for Tiger Woods not playing any part in this Open Championship. Darren Clarke last night revealed how the former world No 1 text-messaged advice which helped him to win his first Major.

"I had a couple of really good messages from Tiger," said Clarke. "He was giving me a couple of bits of advice, which was brilliant. It made it easier than what it otherwise might have been."

Woods was absent with knee and Achilles injuries, but watched from his Florida home as his long-time friend became the oldest player to win a major since 1967.

Rory McIlroy also sent a text message to Clarke. It was exactly the same as the one Clarke texted to McIlroy before his US Open victory last month. It read: "Go out there and show them how good you are." Said McIlroy, after finishing in a tie for 25th: "Northern Ireland is now golf capital of the world!"

Having been ranked way down in 111th, Clarke is not only up to 30th in the rankings but also guaranteed spots in all four Majors for at least the next five years.

He heads to Atlanta for next month's USPGA full of confidence.

"I haven't seen Darren like that since the Match Play in Costa in 2000 when he beat Tiger in the final," said Chubby Chandler the ISM supremo, who has managed Clarke for 21 years.

"Darren has had a lot of shots at it and you think time might be running out - but then it all happens."

Clarke is determined to ensure it doesn't end here. "My ambitions are to win another couple of these things," he said, pointing at the Claret Jug.

"What else can I do? Can I retire and say that's it? I can't. I don't want to rest on this. I want to keep on going, keep on working, because my golf was obviously very good this week. I still feel I can compete with the best in the world."

This was the 54th major of Clarke's career and he had not enjoyed a top-10 finish in any of them for a decade.

"It's pretty amazing," he said. "It's been a dream since I've been a kid to win The Open, and it feels incredible, incredible. It's been a long journey to get here. I'm 42 and I'm not getting any younger."

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