Clarke comes up trumps for Darren

DARREN Clarke’s British Open triumph at Royal St George’s on Sunday was a popular victory with most people but there were few celebrating more when he lifted the Claret Jug than his namesake.

DARREN Clarke’s British Open triumph at Royal St George’s on Sunday was a popular victory with most people but there were few celebrating more when he lifted the Claret Jug than his namesake.

Louth footballer Darren Clarke has put up with comparisons with the Dungannon golfer for most of his life but he had the last laugh on Sunday after backing his namesake for Open glory.

The Ardee native’s e5 each way bet at 150/1 saw him collect e947.50 and he insisted he was “delighted” to see the 42-year-old land his first Major.

Explaining his decision to back Clarke, Darren said: “He was big odds and I knew he had won another tournament (the Iberdrola Open) recently so I just said why not?

“Because he’s my namesake I’ve always had a bit of interest in him and in fairness he played great over the four days. He really kept his nerve and cool when it mattered.

“I’ve backed him a few times before but this was the first time he has won when I’ve had money on him. I was delighted to get him at the price I did but the main reason I went for him was because of the conditions.

“I knew it was scheduled to be bad and playing in Northern Ireland, he’d be used to that. I knew he was a great driver of the ball in wind and rain so I said to myself it was worth an each way bet.”

Clarke, who is captain of Malahide outfit St Sylvesters in Dublin, said he regularly gets compared to his golfing namesake and expected it to get even worse in the days and weeks ahead.

“It never stops and it’ll be 10 times worse now,” he laughed.

“No matter where I am people bring him up to me and the boys in work actually call me Darren Clarke the second.

“I’ve never met him but I would like to someday,” he said.

Clarke, scorer of 1-8 in Louth’s All-Ireland Qualifier defeat to Meath last month, said he hoped to use the money from the weekend’s windfall to pay for a holiday after the season finishes with St Sylvester’s.

“We’re hopeful of giving it a real good go in the championship this year. We’ve won our first two games and hopefully we can hold it together now and get a bit of luck.

“There’s a top bunch of lads at the club and we won the Division One title last year so hopefully this year will be even better.

“Hopefully it’s the year of Darren Clarke,” he said.