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Whirlwind Times for Clarke
After winning the 140th British Open at Royal St. George's in impressive fashion, Darren Clarke set about fulfilling the promise he made shortly after accepting the Claret Jug, when he declared, "I'm fond of a little beverage, and with the R&A's permission, there might be lots of nice Irish black stuff in this trophy this evening."
The party began shortly after as the 42-year-old from Northern Ireland became the toast of Sandwich, England. The revelry didn't end until Clarke had to return Monday morning for a few more interviews and photo ops on the 18th green.
"I have not been to bed yet," he said. "I probably won't get any sleep until tomorrow at some stage. You have to enjoy it while you can. It's been a very good night."
On Monday he still hadn't sorted out the congratulatory messages he received for the widely popular victory. "I have 294 messages," said Clarke as he squinted at his cell phone. "And the writing is far too small for me to look at them in this state."
The fun continued Tuesday when he returned to his adopted home club of Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, where he presented the gold medal he won to Philip Tweedie, the club's captain. The medal will now be displayed alongside that won by Fred Daly, the only other Open champion from Northern Ireland, in 1947.
"This one is to go alongside it. It's for Royal Portrush," Clarke said at the presentation ceremony.
Clarke was born in Dungannon, County Tyrone, and has played at Royal Portrush since he was a teenager. He moved back from England to live closer to his family in the town last year.
"For me this is the best golf course in the world. I am very privileged to give Royal Portrush the gold medal," he said. "I would much prefer that people who come here to play see the medal in the cabinet."
Clarke also stated his case that Royal Portrush should be seriously considered for a future Open Championship, especially since the club has helped spawn two other major winners in the past year, Graeme McDowell in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and Rory McIlroy in this year's U.S. Open at Congressional.
"This golf course is fit to hold any competition in the world," Clarke said. "I am sure if the R&A take a good look at it they can reassess. Right now, with Rory, G-Mac and myself doing so well it would be wonderful to bring it here."
He paid tribute to his fellow Ulstermen. "The two kids have been, and are, fantastic ambassadors for Northern Ireland. I feel privileged and honored to join them."