Golfer Darren Clarke receives OBE at Buckingham Palace

Darren Clarke was awarded the honour for services to sport Darren Clarke was awarded the honour for services to sport

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One of Northern Ireland's champion golfers, Darren Clarke, has received his OBE at Buckingham Palace.

The Open winner was named in the Queen's New Year's honours list for his golfing success in 2011.

The Dungannon man said meeting the Queen was more "nerve-racking" than playing in a major tournament.

"It is right up there, but the Open and Ryder Cup were much easier than this," he said.

In 2006 Mr Clarke put in one of the greatest performances in the history of the Ryder Cup at the K Club near Dublin, just six weeks after his first wife Heather lost her long fight with breast cancer.

He said Heather would have been proud of him, as was his second wife Alison, who was there to see him presented with his medal by the Queen, along with his children.

"She would have been proud of me but more proud of the kids than me, sitting in there and seeing the Queen."

Sporting a deep tan, he joked he was more "windtanned" than suntanned, from travelling around the world to play golf.

"This wasn't a case of nerves, this was a great honour to meet the Queen," he said.

"She asked me about the golf and the charity things as well."

Mr Clarke set up the Darren Clarke Foundation in his first wife's memory after her death.

The 44-year-old won his first major at Royal St George's in Kent in July 2011.

He has played in four Ryder Cup-winning teams and was a victorious vice-captain in 2010.

Fellow Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy was also named in the New Year's honours list.

US Open champion McIlroy received an MBE for services to sport.

Thirty-two men and 23 women from Northern Ireland were awarded honours last December.

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