Sports Personality of the Year top 10: Darren Clarke

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011

  • Venue: Media City UK, Salford Quays
  • Date: Thursday, 22 December
  • Time: 2000 GMT

Coverage: BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Sport website

Sports Personality top 10: Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke is remarkably candid in his assessment of triumphing at the Open. "It was one of those things in sport I wasn't supposed to win. I'm 42, supposedly with my best days behind me, but I proved a few people wrong," he said.

After years of seeking a major breakthrough, Clarke kept his nerve to clinch his maiden major title with a three-shot victory at Royal St George's in July.

An emotional Clarke dedicated his victory to his sons Tyrone and Conor and his late wife Heather - who died in 2006 from breast cancer.

The 43-year-old fired a final-round 70 to finish five under par and hold off Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

Clarke, playing in his 20th Open Championship, became the first winner from the UK since Paul Lawrie in 1999 and the first man from Northern Ireland to win it since Fred Daly in 1947.

CARL DORAN BLOG

It is one of the strongest fields I have ever seen during my time on the show and the race itself is too close to call

It was another golfing triumph for Northern Ireland as Clarke became the country's third major champion in little over a year, following Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy's wins at the US Open.

The Sandwich tournament was the 54th major in which Clarke had played and he had not had a top-10 finish for a decade.

Clarke started playing golf when he was 11 after years carrying his dad's clubs for him and his natural talent was immediately apparent.

His major ambition in life was to win the Open, as it is "the biggest and best tournament in the world".

Clarke told SPOTY he had been to Royal St George's for a practice round a couple of weeks before the tournament began and his form was good.

During the major itself he admitted he had "got breaks with the weather and a couple of good breaks on the gold course too," on his way to capturing his life's dream.

"I've been through tough times in my life but everybody goes through tough times, it's just that mine was played out a little bit more in the public arena.

"I had a lot of support after Heather passed away and I think an awful lot of people paid me back with support at the Open."

Stories from Darren Clarke's year:

Clarke seals three-shot Open win  

Clarke dedicates win to children