Thursday 19 January 2017

Stirring words inspire Clarke to end drought

Bernie McGuire in Majorca

Published 16/05/2011 | 05:00

Darren Clarke chips onto the 17th green during day four of the Iberdrola Open at Pula Golf Club, Mallorca. Photo: Getty Images
Darren Clarke chips onto the 17th green during day four of the Iberdrola Open at Pula Golf Club, Mallorca. Photo: Getty Images

During the three weeks Darren Clarke has been relaxing in the Bahamas, he's been reading a number of motivational books including a book of quotes by some of the world's most famous figures.

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It was the words from a Winston Churchill speech delivered to those at London's Harrow School in 1941 that Clarke drew upon to capture the Iberdrola Open and also end a three-year winless drought.

Clarke was among just eight players to break par in the final round yesterday with the new Portrush resident carding a closing 69 to win by a surprising three strokes in windy conditions on the Pula course in Majorca.

But while the Dunganon native won by three, there were some anxious moments before his 13th Tour victory was officially confirmed.

England's Chris Wood, who led by three strokes ahead of the last round, could have forced a play-off but he proceeded to bogey his closing two holes in a disappointing 76 and share second place with countryman David Lynn, who also had a 70.

As Clarke waited in the scorer's hut watching events on the course, he savoured a pint before emerging to remark: "That tasted bloody fantastic."

Clarke's last victory was the 2008 KLM Open and since then his best results have been a pair of second place finishes last season.

And it was the stirring remarks of Churchill during the 'Blitz' in October 1941 that provided the motivation for his success in Majorca.

"I have been doing an awful lot of reading of late and I went out with a quote in my head which was: "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never," said Clarke.

"It was a quote used by Winston Churchill and no matter what happened today, I was never going to give in.

"I said that to myself when I made a double on 11 but then I had two great up-and-downs after that.

"So it feels awfully good right now to win again. It's been three years since I last won, and I've had a few opportunities like in Bahrain earlier this year when I threw that away a little bit.

"I feel for Woody (Chris Wood) because I have been in that situation before, and also he's a fellow management stablemate so hopefully his day will come.

"Also it's been a very poignant week with Seve's memorial service and we are here because of Seve Ballesteros, so it's been fantastic to come here to his country and win with all the memories we have of Seve."

And Clarke had a message for those Spanish in the crowd looking to see Jose Maria Olazabal win again on the course he redesigned.

"I know you wanted a Spaniard to win this week but hopefully a drunken Irishman is a good second choice," said Clarke laughing.

Clarke was handed a first-prize cheque for €166,660 that has lifted him from 92nd to 35th on the Race to Dubai money list and brought his earnings this year to €261,380.

Caddying for Clarke was Bray's John Mulrooney who savoured his ninth career success. The last day on the Spanish holiday island was more like an episode of 'Survivor' with 19 players shooting over 80 and one posting a 90.

Shane Lowry's drive to a first pro career win ended when he started bogey and double-bogey.

However, the Esker Hills star did regroup momentarily when he birdied three holes in succession from the fifth before a 10th hole birdie.

Unfortunately, Lowry, who was playing in the last group behind Clarke alongside Wood, then followed the Ulsterman into the water at 11 to also take a double-bogey.

He then bogeyed the 12th, 15th and 16th holes in a 74 to finish in a share of fifth on one-under par.

Then as Lowry made his way to the scorer's hut, he stopped to congratulate Clarke.

And Damien McGrane will now join Clarke and Lowry in taking a week off after his final round of 70 handed him a share of ninth and his best result this year.

Simon Thornton, meanwhile, will now depart for the Madeira Islands Open in good fettle after a 74 for a three-over-par tally and a share of 16th place.

Irish Independent

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