The British Open title seemed to be the farthest thing from Irishman Darren Clarke’s mind. He has not competed in the majors for the last ten years and was not eligible for the last three majors. He was not even in the top 100 golfers in the world when he won the recently-concluded British Open, where the crowd showered him with unending applause right after his victory on Sunday.
The Irish shot through the fairways with a cigarette in hand, keeping top contenders like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson at bay until he gained a fair enough lead with a 20-putt eagle on the seventh hole. Mickelson got farther behind when he missed two short putts after lagging behind seven holes. Johnson, who scored a spot into final group for the third time, made a double bogey although he was already two shots behind. Mickelson and Johnson shared the second place spot but failed to advance further, extending the American drought to six major losses in the tournament.
“I’m a bit of a normal bloke, aren’t I?” the winner said. “I like to go to the pub and have a pint, fly home, buy everybody a drink, just normal. There is not many airs and graces about me. I was a little bit more difficult to deal with in my earlier years, and I have mellowed some. Just a little bit. But I’m just a normal guy playing golf, having a bit of fun.”
Clarke experienced minor trouble in the final legs with two bogeys but managed to close with an even par70.
“Pretty amazing right now,” the gray-haired Irishman quipped. “It’s been a dream since I’ve been a kid to win the open, like any kid’s dream is, and I’m able to do it, which just feels incredible.”