Clarke plans Open-ended party


Golf:Darren Clarke was tonight preparing for a “very, very long” celebration after claiming his first major title at the age of 42 in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s.

Clarke carded a final round of 70 in tough conditions to finish three shots clear of American pair Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, with Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn a shot further back in fourth eight years after he blew a three-shot lead here with four holes to play.

“It’s just incredible, I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless,” said Clarke, who lifted the Claret Jug at his 20th attempt. “I played okay today, I did what I needed to do.

“The last couple of holes I was trying not to make any stupid mistakes. I just tried to play really carefully and it was good enough to win.”

Clarke was playing the 54th major of his career and had not had a top 10-finish in them for a decade, but did claim his 13th European Tour title in Majorca in May.

“I won six weeks ago and the more you put yourself in winning positions the more comfortable you get with it and I’ve been very comfortable with myself this week,” Clarke added.

Clarke’s wife Heather died in 2006 after a long battle with cancer and the Ulsterman dedicated the win to their sons Tyrone and Conor.

“It’s for the kids,” an emotional Clarke said. “They played Royal Portrush this morning and were watching on TV.”

As for the celebrations, Clarke added: “I think they will be very, very long and I’ll be very hungover.”