There are victories that define more than a career that include 22 worldwide victories. There are victories that started as a childhood dream. In Sandwich, England, a true lifetime victory defined by perseverance was enjoyed by all.
Darren Clarke, the 42-year old fan favorite from Northern Ireland, won his first major, fulfilling his childhood dream at the 140th playing of The Open at Royal St. Georgesâ€™s. This event is the golf oldest championship that started in 1860 at Prestwick.
You could not help but pull for Darren, playing in his 20th Open Championship. He had lost his wife Heather at the age of just 39 in August 2006 due to breast cancer, leaving him two small sons to raise (Tyrone born in 1998 and Connor born 2001). He dedicated his win to all three.
This year it seems it was just meant to be for Clarke. He was assigned the same locker Greg Norman had when he won at Royal St. Georgeâ€™s. A par-saving putt on the first hole of the final round set the tone and gave him that important confidence.
Phil Mickelson made a gallant charge on Sunday with a 30 on the front nine but a cold putter on the back nine led to a 38 and a tie for a second place finish with another American, Dustin Johnson. Phil, who has become the ambassador of golf for America, was gracious in his loss. More than that, the lefty was happy for Darren, who has been there for Phil and his wife Amy during her recent bout with breast cancer. The pair have become solid friends. They both see the big picture.
The golf world will talk about the last six major wins by non Americans. The most important story is that Northern Ireland golfer have won the last three majors, Graeme McDowell at the 2010 US Open, Rory McIlroy and his stunning 2011 US Open romp and Darren Clarke's heartwarming Open triumph. This is quite an accomplishment for Northern Ireland, only the size of Connecticut with a population of just 1.5 million.
There is a huge celebration in the nation's town of Portrush, attended by McDowell, McIlroy and thousands. This is clearly their time or as McIlroy posted on his Twitter account: "Northern Ireland â€“ The Golf Capital of the World."
Golf is the winner worldwide; letâ€™s all tip our hats to a most deserving champion, Darren Clarke.
The people's champion now has a title that will always define his career and an accomplishment he can carry with him proudly for the rest of his life.
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