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Craftsman Clarke showcases dying art of shot-making

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Iain Carter | 16:31 UK time, Monday, 18 July 2011

Walking the 18 holes to witness first hand all 70 strokes played in Darren Clarke's final round at the 140th Open Championship was a rare privilege.

This was, of course, such a popular win for one of European golf's favourite sons.

The emotion that cascaded from the grandstands surrounding the final green as Clarke made his victory march at Royal St George's will live long in the memory.

But just as enduring, and more significant, was the calibre and nature of the golf played by the 42-year-old from Northern Ireland to claim his first major title.

In an age when big-hitting beasts relentlessly roll off the golfing production line, it was so refreshing to watch a craftsman at work. Against the backdrop of often violent elements and challenging terrain, Clarke used the 14 tools in his bag to create a masterpiece.

So much of the modern game is about generating maximum clubhead speed and taking advantage of huge sweet spots that the craft of shotmaking has become a dying art and the game is the poorer for it.

Clarke's virtuoso display was a throwback to a different age and refreshingly proved that to conquer a tough links course in windy conditions you need more than a gym-honed physique and the ability to belt a golf ball into the next time zone.

A silhouetted Darren Clarke hits a shot off the 12th tee

It took Clarke 20 attempts to find the winning formula at the Open - photo: AP.

With his mind positive and his mood serene, Clarke was able to execute the biggest round of his life with a rare mixture of shots. Some punched low with little spin, others smacked high to ride the wind - and all with total control.

In successive holes to the turn, the new Open champion struck a nine iron 76 yards, a sand wedge 105 yards, a four iron 171 yards, an eight iron 198 yards, a five iron 183 yards and a seven iron 178 yards.

The piece-de-resistance came at the 14th - the hole that effectively won him the Championship. After seeing Dustin Johnson blast out of bounds, Clarke hit an exquisite seven iron 127 yards into the heart of the green to ensure a crucial par that had him leaving the most treacherous hole on the back nine with a four-stroke lead.

Naturally the wind direction has a large bearing on how far a golf ball will travel, but the point is Clarke was using varying implements for a variety of distances and treating the gusts as a help rather than a hindrance.

In the third round we saw 22-year-old Rickie Fowler doing the same thing and revelling in the unique challenge of seaside golf. The young American's 68 - compiled in wretched conditions - was a round of true substance and shows that the emerging generation can, if they are of the right mind, embrace and prosper in this form of the game.

At the same age as Fowler, US Open champion Rory McIlroy is less enamoured with links golf in the wind. "I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather," Clarke's Northern Ireland compatriot said.

"And there's no point in changing your game for one week in a year," McIlroy added.

He may be condemned for his candour. This is a quote that could haunt the young star for years to come because surely adapting your golf to suit the conditions is the game's essence.

McIlroy's manager Andrew "Chubby" Chandler has already made a well-reasoned defence on behalf of his client. "Why would he change what he's got," Chandler told BBC Sport.

"What will happen is that he'll gradually learn to play the shots that Darren learned to play 15 years ago, but you know at 22 he's not got the experience.

"It won't be a case of changing his game, he doesn't need to do that because he has a game that can win many, many golf tournaments. He'll get a couple of times at the Open when the wind is not up, but he'll learn.

"He's already learned a hell of a lot in a year. Last year he had no idea (of how to play in the wind) and this year he was much, much better.

"You guys get them when they're disappointed and they've just finished, so what comes out of their mouth 'Bubba Watson style' isn't always what they're really thinking," Chandler added.

It took Clarke 20 attempts to find the winning formula at the Open and this was only McIlroy's fourth Championship.

This was the one where everything fell into place for Clarke. He was on the right side of the draw and even had the lucky omen of being allocated the same locker as 1993 champion Greg Norman.

But to take full advantage in the way that he did, Clarke still needed the innate and acquired skills of a golfing craftsman. There are many reasons to celebrate this long overdue maiden major victory and one of the biggest is that it took these qualities to make it happen.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Just brilliant Darren!

    I'm on wiki looking back through all the major winners since I was around 5 or 6 and can actually remember watching them. I can't think of one that made me happier than this one.

    Some stand out (Nicklaus in '86, Woosnam in '91, the amazing final round at Sandwich in '93, Paddy in '07), but I just can't remember feeling this good about any of them.

    Congratulations Darren. A wonderful champion.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great article, saw every shot he hit on TV and totally agree. Saw DC at the Irish Open at County Louth in foul conditions a couple of years ago, he finished in the middle of the pack but clearly a SHOTMAKER par excellence. Wonderful.

  • Comment number 3.

    Just totally delighted for the big man. He played some great golf and with a big smile all through the tournament. A worthy open champion who I wish further (major) success.

  • Comment number 4.

    What stood out for me was the way Darren Clarke made the final round look so easy. There was no sign of nerves whatsoever. A couple of times there appeared to be some doubt over club selection, but the results speak for themselves. And in the era of the monster hitter it's good to see that maturity, experience and craft all have roles to play in winning the biggest tournament of them all.

  • Comment number 5.

    What a true sportsman, I have watched and grimaced for 20 years as the talented Dungannon man blew chance after chance after chance. Yesterday he was serene, at peace with the world and most importantly himself.

    One thing I took from yesterday and his round with Glover was his interaction with his playing partner. Just chatted away, relaxed, a nice bit of banter on the way round a golf course. None of the intensity, none of the focus or zones you hear about. A sportsman, also a true gent, hushing the crowd to make sure Dustin Johnson got his shots away.

    A popular win, a throwback win to when winning was about class and character rather than focus and training.

    Northern Ireland boys have both in abundance.

  • Comment number 6.

    He looked destined to win it all week and I think he believed that as well. I did and I had him at 125/1.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well done, i was really hoping you would do it, i'm always worried that you can't put 4 rounds together, but he was magnificient over the weekend, cool, calm and collected.

    A couple of good bounces when required, and a couple of mistaked from Phil and Dustin, but i think you would have to go a long way to find a more popular winner.

    Well done, 3 majors in 13 months for NI born golfers, unbelievable.

  • Comment number 8.

    In an age when big-hitting beasts relentlessly roll off the golfing production line, it was so refreshing to watch a craftsman at work. Against the backdrop of often violent elements and challenging terrain, Clarke used the 14 tools in his bag to create a masterpiece.

    So much of the modern game is about generating maximum clubhead speed and taking advantage of huge sweet spots that the craft of shotmaking has become a dying art and the game is the poorer for it.


    Clarke's virtuoso display was a throwback to a different age and refreshingly proved that to conquer a tough links course in windy conditions you need more than a gym-honed physique and the ability to belt a golf ball into the next time zone.


    Mr Carter, the 3 paragraphs above say everything.

    Put the likes of Woods and his big hitting chums back into the era of less friendly equipment, and non manicured courses and how seriously would they compete ?

    Watson at 59, Norman in his fifities, now Clarke in his forties all serious contenders for the Open in the last few years. Craft and skill will span whatever generation, Woods would be competitive going back, his is not just power based but it does make up a fair proportion of his armament and he would certainly not have ruled the roost back then.

    Thank you Mr Carter, thank you Mr Clarke.

  • Comment number 9.

    You can't keep a good old Irish golfer down, and they're not done just yet. There are more even younger ones out there, practising in all sorts of weather.

    You will not see them singing their own praise, they just get on with it quietly and win Masters after Masters, the way it ought to be.

    Let other golfers claim to be World No1, good luck to them, but if you can't hack it - you'll never be one !!

  • Comment number 10.

    The 4 biggest moments yesterday for me were, Clarkes par putt on 1, clarkes eagle on 7, Mickelsons missed putt on 11 and Johnson hitting it out of bounds on 14.

    Darren deserved it, Fowler and Johnson both played well.

    Rory will be fine.

    Those criticising Tiger are out of order, Tiger plays well in Links conditions, he's had plenty of top 10's in the open.

  • Comment number 11.

    Unbelievable that some would use Darren Clarke winning the Open to have a go at Woods. Woods has won golf tournaments and majors on all types of courses in all types of conditions. Something comparitively few golfers have acheived. To suggest this is down to in a large part to simply having better clubs is embarrassing.

    The point McIlroy was making was not just how advese weather conditions can affect your own game, but also how the highly variable weather conditions can lead to a large luck factor element where conditions can be significantly better or worse depending on what time you are scheduled to start.

  • Comment number 12.

    Good article, but as is often the case, a subject's quotes are taken out of context. McIlroy did indeed say he'd not change his game just for one week in an entire year. However, what he meant (and he was properly quoted) is that he shall not change his entire game so that he has a chance of winning The Open, whereas his game currently is good enough to win him all the other majors, and none of which have conditions as horrendous as those regularly thrown up at the Open.

    Nice play Darren though...wonderful shots...I wonder how he managed to keep so composed throughout the final round!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Comments about Tiger are prefaced with the fact that he has the skills to compete with the Nicklaus's in his era but the aid of bashing the ball 300+ yards is undoubtedly an asset which he nonetheless has used to his advantage, there is nothing wrong with that but as the author of the article pointed out, the game has lost something as the power guys have taken over.

    Tom Watson was quoted during the championship that players from the US in particular were enthusiastic about competing in the Open because it made them think and surely at the very top that is what you want to see, you want to see player v course in the hardest but fairest conditions possible.

    In an era where driving a par4 is ridiculous, its a joy to see players having to think for a change. Why at their age should the likes of Norman, Watson and Clarke be in contention ? because for them its skill first then power, for too many its the other way around. You will lose the power, skill - never

    Woods is in between, lots of skill, you dont win titles purely on power, but I maintain that take him back to pre power clubs and pristine courses, he would not be top dog in the manner he has been these past years

  • Comment number 14.

    Great article Ian. Can't add much to it. Absolutely delighted for Darren. Def one of golf's good guys. As a 'new' links player (just joined North Berwick this year) I am discovering just how few shots I have in my bag when the wind blows but the challenge is often exhilarating. More creativity is demanded and watching Clarkie manage his way round Royal St Georges was a throw back to golf 20 years ago . Back in the 80s the pros needed a little guile as well power. I was a bit disappointed in young Rory's comments but one can understand the frustration after he ran up a bogey on account of his ball moving. Interestingly a similar thing threatened Ricky Fowler at one stage but the American was careful not to ground his putter. A wise head on young shoulders. I'm sure with more experience Rory will rise to the challenge and see just why this is the best tournament in golf.

  • Comment number 15.

    Darren Clarke was a worthy winner to a great championship. Having watched all 4 days golf on television I would like to congratulate the entire BBC TV golf team, who once again did a great job, including interviews, commentary, Ken Brown's course insights etc. Also was a good idea to bring in Jim Nantz to give us a US perspective. Hazel Irvine continues to do a great job as host of these golf events. Well done all at BBC golf.

  • Comment number 16.

    Great article Ian. The shot-making is what The Open is all about. Would love to hear more of Phil Parkin on the BBC coverage rather than poor old Peter Alliss. Retirement is surely long overdue!

  • Comment number 17.

    I remember going to Adare to see Clarke at a couple of Irish Opens.....he played with YE Yang and Oliver Wilson and his ball striking made them look like a couple of 10 handicappers....... i realise there is more to the game than pure ball striking but it looks like Clarke found the rest over the weekend...............A super winner and a great sportsman................

  • Comment number 18.

    Must disagree somewhat with GTD1, as I found this one of Peter Alliss's better tournaments. Perhaps reaching the big 5-0 made him think a bit more before opening his mouth. The real weak link in the team is the boring and opinionated Mark James. But do agree with the comments on Phil Parkin and hope he gets a studio seat soon.

  • Comment number 19.

    You can tell Darren is hugely popular with his fellow pro's, he always demonstrates humility, humour and respect for the game and all of his opponents. I am so pleased he has captured a major because although he probably wouldn't admit it, his very best years when he would have been competing for all the majors were spent focussing on more important things than sport. This is a most deserving award for a truly great player

  • Comment number 20.

    I am absolutely delighted for Darren Clarke and his family. A gentleman on and off the course, it is wonderful to see him win the biggest and most important individual prize there is golf.

    I come from Belfast and the exploits of our golfers are really doing us all proud.

    I just want to add an additional comment on Rory McIlroys mutterings after he finished. His management team have immediately tried to smooth over what he said but his words will live long the memory of us regular club golfers.

    Golf is a game which is to be played in whatever conditions are delivered to us at that time. That is the challenge, sometimes conditions are good, sometimes they are bad but we are meant to rise to that challenge (just as Darren did).

    One of the reasons The Open is the worlds biggest tournament is because us regular golfers can face the same conditions at our own courses and relate to what the players are facing. What we struggle to relate with is the man-made target practice golf played in the always sunny conditions on the PGA Tour (Augusta aside). Rory McIlroy needs to sit up and realise this. And fast.

  • Comment number 21.

    Such a worthy champion! I was able to catch most of the four days and he played magnificently. A true joy to watch his artistry as a shotmaker. Also, I was really pleased to see that Rickie Fowler showed such composure and talent as well. A fantastic year for golf...perhaps a Garcia win at the PGA is in store as the final piece?

  • Comment number 22.

    Rory's comments are certainly being blown out of all proportion. His tee-off time on Saturday certainly didn't help his cause by pitting him against the worst weather the weekend had to offer. Then again if he had put a round together like his playing partner on that day (Ricky Fowler) he would have found himself in contention going into the final 18 with a more favourable tee-off time. He's young and still learning at this level.. I don't think anybody doubts he'll come back stronger and have a shot at winning at least a couple of Open Championships.

    As a fellow Dungannon man I'm ecstatic for Darren, we have all known for many years he has the ability to bring in a major.. it was always his temperament, confidence and some of the unfortunate things off the course which made us think that maybe the ship has sailed. Thankfully, he's content in his life and seems to be really enjoying playing again, both of which I think were evident in his demeanour on the course and in front of the cameras throughout the tournament.

    After seeing Mickleson's front nine I was afraid we were going to see something absolutely outrageous from him on the final day. Uncharacteristically missing that short putt on 11 (maybe through adrenaline as much as anything) was like a body blow he never recovered from.

    Darren's whole round was one of level-headedness mixed with the odd piece of good fortune (particularly when he hurdled that bunker at a critical time). He made no severe errors, and in the end strolled home playing cautiously not to jeopardise undoing all the good work he had already done.

    A worthy Open champion, loved all over the world, a credit to the sport, our country and himself. He has finally got his just reward for what has so far been a marvellous career... and hopefully laid some demons to rest in the process!

  • Comment number 23.

    My only regret is that I was on the US West Coast and couldn't soak up the unique atmosphere of the greatest tournament in the world and especially, as already stated by Ian Carter, on how the game should be played (I tried to qualify twice when I was a sprog) in weather not atypical of it's birthing ground.
    One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching it on TV was the new technology which allows the viewer to follow the flight of a shot from behind and as it lands with a kind of tracer line. This enabled us to see the full range of shots D.C. made into the different winds. I must say, I'm also impressed by Dustin "Bomber" Johnson -hope that the US golf pundits won't do to him what the British tabloid press once did to Nick Faldo (They christened him "Foldo" until he shut them up with six majors) and can only think that he'll win a big one eventually but Hell, with his length, he could have hit a five iron at his suicide hole and still have been up close (echoes of Levet)! Also enjoyed big Phil's charge and his quiet asides to Darren when they were waiting for the presentation. And Young Fowler proved his mettle on a course which must have seemed like he was on another planet. One of the most emotional and satisfying Opens I've witnessed, albeit from afar. Makes me proud to be a golfer just in the way these guys interact with each other (I don't know how they do it -I get nervous just WATCHING 'em but I guess that's why they're where they are and I'm not!). Tipping a pint o' stout to them as I write, especially the champ.

  • Comment number 24.

    Enjoyed this even more than Paddy and Rory's wins.

    @jacethepace: calling the Open the world's biggest tournament sounds a bit parochial. Forced to make a choice I think most pros would rather have a Masters on their CV. And criticizing Rory for that is a bit churlish.

  • Comment number 25.

    OMG,, rory's comments came off the back of some comments aboiut having to make different kinds of shots at the open. He was first asked if he can play in the wind, can win the Open..
    Lets face it he has come 3rd at St Andrews last year,, playing his golf. holds the rcord for the lowest opening round in The Open and holds the course record at Royal Portrush,, it is absolute rubbish to suggest he cant play a links course. and guess what how many people broke par on Saturday.. so why are people not asking the same questions of those players.. he has played 4 Opens and already he has had a a higher finish than Luke donald has ever had . or Monty.. leave the lad alone he will win the open possibly 3 or 4 times before he is done.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Rory's comments were not blown out of proportion, just interpreted the wrong way. The disappointment for me about the comments was the negativity. He's almost saying if the wind blows he doesn't expect to contend, which is very disappointing. Surely he should be oozing confidence at this stage of his career in all types of golfing situation. He should be asking Darren how to plot his way round a links course when the wind blows. Perhaps then he could move on to the next level. I doubt we would have heard Tiger talking like that when he was the same age as Rory is now.

    Crokey, I'm not sure that most players would prefer a Masters. Maybe true for US players, but for non-US players? I doubt it.

  • Comment number 27.

    John you clearly have a blinkered view of modern golf, and almost certainly seem to have jumped on the 'I hate Tiger' bandwagon. As you either fail to acknowledge or conveniently forrget, Tiger has worked hard to develop the ability to shape the ball. He now shapes almost every shot,attempting to work the ball close to flags. It is unfair to say his gameis based on power when for years he has been by far and away the best putter in the game and manouvered the ball out of ridiculously difficult positions. He also used a steel shaft in his driver when others jumped to lengthened graphite shaftss as control is his ideal. Yet another sad manattempting to put possibly the greatest golfer of all time down, when he wasn't even playing and you should be congratulating Darren on a deserved victory.

  • Comment number 28.

    Crokey, you are so wrong. It is well known that The Open is the biggest tournament in the world. Tiger, Seve, Arnold Palmer, to name a few, have said it.

    Well done to DC. Always been a quality golfer and no surprise his game has suffered after what he has been through. Lets hope he kicks on and wins a few more

  • Comment number 29.

    at last..........a good guy comes first!!.............delighted for Darren and all his connections, im not the greatest fan of the open as the weather usually determines the origin of the winner, garcia could have contended had he not been out in the worst of it, however, thats how it is when your name is on the jug, but his iron play was top notch, putting held up, he got energised rather than nervous about the pressure from the crowd and the golfing gods lent a hand too...........shame about McIlroy's comments as he could have added that he was brought up on links golf and that was why he didnt need to change his game, maybe , he could take something from the attitude of Rickie Fowler who gave him a lesson on the staurday without any moans . and finally the BBC coverage, stilted, poorly directed and lacking flair, well, looks like they discovered slow motion accompanied with piano music and as ever flogged it to death, how many times do we want to see Tom Watson smiling under the rain, tractors in fields, a couple having a chat in a field, while golf is playing in the background. never mind the Mark Lawrenson of golf that is mark james, trying but failing to be funny, argumenatitive with fellow presenters, pulling them up on insignificant incidentals..........no idea why such a journey man golfer and bore is in the studio, Maureen Madill, phil parkin, and ken brown(when he is normal and not hopping about like a puppy)were excellent and deserve better leads, and as for Peter Aliss, as ever out of touch, uninformed, no idea about the set up or contours of the course, no idea about the players , (rickly fowler has a history of playing well in the wind, which escaped Mr Aliss) and as ever name dropping on tv about the funeral arrangements of one of his friends or plugging the various courses he has an involvement in..............BBC could do worse that swop the complete team at radio 5 with the TV lot , hazel irvine is no john inverdale............so that is that rant out of the way...................

    well done Darren, enjoy it, you deserve it and all that comes with it................slainte

  • Comment number 30.

    Have to agree with #29 in relation to the BBC coverage. There was the usual irrelevant dribble from Alliss that was so much in abundance that the mute button on the remote was a godsend. As for Mark James, can he not be earmarked for the Olympics next year to commentate on the Curling. The BBC need to revamp the entire commentary team and coverage for Golfs premier event. At times it was rather embarrassing.

  • Comment number 31.

    I have to agree with regards the BBC's television coverage. I actually wrote to the R&A a couple of years ago criticising the coverage from the 2009 Turnberry Open as I felt it was extremely embarrassing and amateurish compared to a rival television station's coverage of major golf tournaments. It can really reflect badly on the game. Obviously the R&A have done nothing about this as 2010 and now 2011's coverage has not improved one iota. A massive overhaul is needed. The only problem is the BBC show very little golf and building a team of professional commentators and analysts would be difficult for a one-off event. Maybe they could start with hiring Jim Nantz to present(the only shining light of the weekend's golf coverage), replacing Hazel Irvine and then work on the full commentary team and that ever so annoying slow-motion camera and piano music.

  • Comment number 32.

    First off, it was great to see Darren Clarke do what I thought he might not be able to, and that was holding his nerve (perfectly) in the final round to lead from the front and stay there till the very end to win. After seeing him in similar positions in the past before crumbling away, I did doubt him, but he seemed to have an inner calm about him that meant even the toughest of challengers eventually melted away.

    The BBC coverage certainly isn't perfect - Hazel Irvine is just not meant to be an anchor. Unfortunately, ever since I recall her commentating on volleyball at one of the past Olympics when she was still new to the BBC put me off forever with her manner and voice. John Inverdale was the natural anchor role and should have been put in that position for the television coverage. Frankly, even Gary Lineker would have been better than Hazel Irvine!

    Mark James does suffer from foot in mouth syndrome, particularly regarding his comment about Ireland. As soon as he said it I cringed and knew there would be a follow-up apology at some point!

    Despite these two though, I would have BBC coverage of the golf any day over the Sky coverage. I found it unwatchable during their Ryder Cup coverage, made worse by the appalling weather that made it even more disappointing.

    So be careful of what you wish for...

  • Comment number 33.

    Darren Clarke's victory was beautiful to watch, not only did he truly deserve it for many personal reasons, it shows how perseverance can win through in the end. But Iain I think you are right the craftsmanship of his 4 rounds in the weather was wonderful, it was fantastic to see the variety of shots and to see a display of Links golf at its best. Its so good to see that creative shot making has not died. The ability to use the elements and layout to your advantage is vital to the game, creativity brings in the crowds and adds to the excitement, target golf just gets boring. In truth we all miss Seve who was without doubt the best exponent of creative play and as a result incredibly exciting to watch and loved the world over. A note to teaching Pros and coaches everywhere - teach the kids to be more creative and to use every club in the bag every time they play

  • Comment number 34.

    Nice article Iain Carter! Great to read about the many different shots DC played on sunday and some of the yardages in particular. He made it look so easy(watching on TV) on the day that we could be forgiven for missing the creativity and shot-making mastery that went into that performance.

  • Comment number 35.

    It's not about changing your game, it's about adapting to the conditions. Whether its links golf or parkland golf, conditions always play a part.
    For instance, the ball travels longer in hot dry conditions, the ball travels less in wet and cold conditions and so on. The ball will also tends to stick on softer ground.
    Wind is and will always be part and parcel of golf. The skill of the golfer is judging how the wind is likely to affect the ball in flight.
    Clarke proved that he not only mastered the elements, but he also mastered what is a tricky course at Sandwich.
    Fantastic outcome and great for Darren and his family. Well done!

  • Comment number 36.

    How many times do I stand on the tee/fairway at my Club and hear 'I have 150yds to go must be a PW' and then see the ball come up short, hooked left, sliced right or topped? It's not about how far you can hit the ball with a 6 iron or whatever, it is about how many and the average player can take a valuable lesson from this article and the way DC played the course and conditions.

  • Comment number 37.

    @crokey:24

    I think you'll find that most pros when asked would choose the Open as the tournament that they'd like to win.

    Those pro's in America may differ in opinion (albeit it may not be majority). Tom Watson (who you'll agree to be one of the most respected pro's around) calls the Open "The World Championship of Golf". That really says it all.

    Whilst I enjoy watching the US Masters, you must remember that it is an invitational only tournament. That immediately rules out an awful lot of people and indeed would have prevented Darren Clarke playing this weekend were it applied to the Open.

    So to summarise, oldest, biggest and most certainly best. The one they all want to win. Lets hope we get to enjoy it at Portrush soon.

  • Comment number 38.

    Iain,
    I think we're all envious of your Sunday afternoon.
    It seems in the (relatively) recent past that Darren Clarke has played some terrific rounds or two only to be undone from the rhythm of his day with weather delays or otherwise interrupted rounds, at a rainy Masters, a PGA Championship and most recently at last year's Open when he had about the best Round 2 in the afternoon gales, only to have to get up first thing to complete his superb round, then hang about for six hours for his Round 3 tee-time. With Tiger.
    Absolutely great to see his march to destiny uniterrupted this time.

    As for Rory, the press needs to give him a break. Rory shouldn't have to apologise to anyone for his schedule or opinions; don't imagine anyone doubts he'll win an Open or three.

  • Comment number 39.

    didt realise it was the bore Mark James who made the comment. tat if Darren Clarke wins then maybe they will stop fighting eachother over there.. pathetic from a small minded individual. he all the Beeb are able to afford tho. If faldo was in the commentary box then you might get some insight as to what is going thru the mond of the ;eader bt James I am afraid has been a follower all his playing acreer and has nothing to offer but silly racist jibes. he should be summarily fired over that. stood in the corner with his back to the class..

  • Comment number 40.

    As others have said, Rory doesn't need to change his game, he simply needs to adapt better to the conditions.

    Rory was brought up playing at Holywood, its not a links course. Yes he has played links golf, as an amateur in Ireland a lot of their tournaments are on links courses.

    He can play links golf, you don't shoot 61 at Royal Portrush, if you can't, i don't care what the conditions are like - to understand how good that is, you have to have played the course.

    Well done Darren, you played the best golf of the week and thoroughly deserved to win.

  • Comment number 41.

    Great win, DC!

  • Comment number 42.

    Agree totally with the comments re the big fella's shot-making but the closing stages of this year's open made me think back to the emotions of the Ryder Cup 2006. I was in tears then and I was again on Sunday. It was just reward for a man who genuinely appears to be 'one of the good guys'. He admitted that he's been through bad times but said he wasn't alone in that and he'd also had his share of really good times which others haven't. He's not just a great golfer, he's a great inspiration. Let's just celebrate his success and this achievement rather than trying to make comparisons with others.

  • Comment number 43.

    Crokey, just for the record. A quote from the great Jack Nicklaus.... "You haven't won anything, until you've won The Open".... The Open is 150 years old..... The US Masters just over 75 years old, and was shoe-horned in as a Major Championship in the mid 1930's, long after all-time greats Walter Hagen & Bobby Jones were winning their Open Champinships.... Enough said...

  • Comment number 44.

    I have two ambitions in life....golf like Darren Clarke and write like Iain Carter...but alas!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Firstly, magnificent effort Darren Clarke. A great shotmaker, great talent and a good down to earth guy.

    Further to 'John's' comments no.8 and no.13 in regards to Tiger Woods and how is dominance would have not been quite so prominent if he had been using the same equipment as the heroes of days gone by. I find those comments completely unsubstantiated and embarrassing as JoeDavisRoach quite accurately points out. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of Tiger's success is not down to his power. On the contrary in the last 6 or 7 years he has languished fairly down the driving distance stats. More so, Tiger's shotmaking ability as a package whether it's shaping a three iron or whether he's conjuring up a short shot is absolutely unrivalled. Who had a ever heard of the 'dead armed' wedge or the 'stinger' with a 2 iron (or 3 wood!) before Tiger came on the scene ? Tiger's move to Hank Haney to develop his repertoire in the early mid 2000's produced a golfer that has equal success shaping an iron shot either way. To think that a shotmaker of Tiger's ability wouldn't have been as successful with the old equipment (equipment he used whilst becoming comfortably the best amateur in the world if not all time and win three consecutive US amateurs) is ridiculous. Maybe pose the question to Mr Nicklaus and see what he says....

  • Comment number 46.

    The BBC coverage was on the whole okay for me but Mark James, yes, a problem there. If you're going to put a lot of your 'personality' into your presenting (as he does) then it's key that you have an attractive one (which he doesn't ... or at least doesn't appear to). If he commentated straight he'd be fine.

  • Comment number 47.

    Anyone who thinks Tiger Woods is nothing more than a big hitter has obviously jumped on the "I hate Tiger" bandwagon since his fall from grace or has never watched him play tournament golf. Tiger is one of the best shot shapers who has ever played the game and his short game was up there with the very best as well.

    The equipment argument is ridiculous as well. Tiger grew up playing with the same equipment that Nicklaus, Seve and co were playing with at the time...I'm pretty sure he didnt become the best golfer on the planet overnight following the release of the first big headed titanium drivers!

    @John (Comment 13) - Nicklaus was exactly the same as Tiger when he arrived on the scene...his power and the distance he hit the ball gave him an advantage over the field. However I am not blinkered enough to claim that that is the only reason he won anything.

  • Comment number 48.

    Correct me if I am wrong but didn't Rory grow up in Northern Ireland? Didn't he learn to play the game on the links of Portrush and the surrounding area? Didn't he cut his teeth on the links courses? Surely he knows how to play in the wind he's been doing it for 18 years since he first picked up a club. I know it takes time to adjust to links golf but you don't forget how to play just need a tune up. McIlroy knows how to play links golf and should easily be able to change his game for 1 week of the year. Silly comment by the lad and come on Iain surely you know that one to.

  • Comment number 49.

    Bubba Watson got a lot of stick for his comments, so why should McIlroy be exempt? Surely he knew his comments wouldn't go down very well?

    ...and sorry Chubby, being interviewed immediately after a round, good or bad, is part of being a top professional golfer I'm afraid, so that's a poor excuse. Maybe he should just learn to engage brain first, and have a bit of humility (considering his fellow countryman was about to win The Open)?

  • Comment number 50.

    Sunday was a fantastic afternoon. I have to admit I doubted that Darren could keep his cool and sat on the edge of my seat for nearly 4 hours expecting the worst, but ended in tears as one of the good guys brought the Claret Jug home with a calmness and control that defied belief. I have enough trouble keeping calm over the last few holes when I've a good card in the monthly medal, and as for playing links golf in the wind I find it impossible. Just many many congratulations Darren, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy, all club golfers are delighted.

    I would like to mention the Americans. Mickelson played great for 10 holes and threatened to spoil the party, but his graciousness in defeat as well as Dustin Johnson's, who will win some majors in his time, was exceptional. It showed how popular Darren is. I am one of the old school who believes that you play as hard as you can to win, but then you sink a few pints with your opponents afterwards. Hats off to them. Also Rickie Fowler played links golf as if born to it despite his dress sense, just his putter went cold, watch out Rory - you may win in America, but Fowler will take at least three Opens.

    Finally, Darren - fantastic - I hope you sober up by the Irish Open, but I'm not optimistic

  • Comment number 51.

    One of the greatest rounds of golf I have ever seen - watching him think and execute every shot - against the elements - not losing shots like everyone else, under pressure and yet calm and smiling. Playing almost faultlessly. Fantastic.

  • Comment number 52.

    Totally agree with 45-Ben and 47-Pianojohn. Anyone questioning Tiger's shotmaking ability has either never watched Woods play golf or doesn't understand the game of golf themselves, or perhaps both. Woods is quite patently one of the greatest shotmakers of all time, and by far and away the greatest of this generation. His US Open win in 2000, finishing -12 when the next player was +3, the Open win at St. Andrews in the same year where he managed to avoid hitting into any bunker all week (purposely designing his game plan and choice & variety of shots in order to do so), his Open win at Hoylake in 2006 where he hit driver once in the 72 holes (which incidentally led to his only bogey of the tournament) to name just a few were quite simply masterclasses in shotmaking precision. Add to that that he has continuously displayed the imaginative wizardry akin to Seve when in positions of trouble and managed to pull off some of the most spectacular shots ever seen in golf. Tiger is quite simply a shot making genius. Simply put, with his natural ability, he would have been as dominant in any other era or with any type of equipment, perhaps even moreso as modern equipment has enabled less skillful golfers to close the gap.

    Great victory for Darren, who always has been a true shotmaker and a pleasure to watch for those of us who enjoy that aspect of the game, much more than the "bomb it, find it, pitch it, then let's have a putting contest" which much of modern golf has become.

    Also, Woods, from early on his pro career, engrossed himself in the magic of links golf, the position of the Open as the world's greatest golf tournament and realised that if he were to be considered a truly great champion would have to win a few of these. As such he adapted his game in order to be able to win the Open. Rory could learn from this. He needs to grow up if he is to be considered a tru champion.

    Get off the "I hate Tiger bandwagon", go watch some dvds of Tiger's major wins and get yourself an education in golf. Regardless of what has gone on in his private life the fact remains that he is one of the greatest golfers of all time and there would only be two others who could be included in a debate for THE greatest ever- Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones.

  • Comment number 53.

    50.At 18:03 20th Jul 2011, brianusedtobe8 wrote:
    "Finally, Darren - fantastic - I hope you sober up by the Irish Open, but I'm not optimistic"

    Might be being a bit contreversial here but is that anything to be proud of? Not a great example to kids smoking and binge drinking is it?

 

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