Darren Clarke Proves to Be a Champion of the People

Kevin PahlauContributor IIIJune 9, 2016

SANDWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 17:  Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland celebrates victory on the 18th green during the final round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's on July 17, 2011 in Sandwich, England.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As Darren Clarke walked up to the 18th green during the final day at Royal St. George’s, reality began to sink in. He was going to be a British Open champion and that's what the people wanted.

The weather the players endured during the week was a good representation of what life has been like for Darren Clarke the last few years. There were sunny, pleasant days and there were days that were dark and foreboding.

Sunday was one of the bright, sunny days in Clarke's life even if the weather didn't indicate that. His win at the British Open came after 20 years of pursuing a major title.

No one could have predicted dark days for Clarke during the success he achieved in the early 2000s when he was ranked in the Top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings.

2001 marked the beginning of those darker times when his wife, Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer. Heather began cancer treatments but in 2004 she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. Clarke took time off to care for his wife during most of 2005 and 2006.

On August 13, 2006, Heather lost her battle with cancer. She left behind Darren and their two sons. Heather was only 39.

Clarke did not compete professionally for six months after his wife's death. It wasn't until he was picked to play in the 2006 Ryder Cup that he stood within the ropes of competition.

It would not be long before Clarke would find success on the course though. He won all three of his matches playing in the Ryder Cup that year. His wins proved to be emotional not only for Clarke but for his teammates and fans as well.

2007 was a difficult year professionally for Clarke as he struggled on the course and tried to keep his home life stable, raising his two sons by himself.

Clarke would find his life continuing on an upswing, though, in 2008.

He won twice on the European tour that year, winning the BMW Asian Open in China and the KLM Open.

Through good times and bad times, Clarke always comes across as the same person. He is the every man's golfer. He never gives the impression he is an arrogant player. He seems like the type of person with whom you could easily identify. It is just that his score is much better than yours. 

Even his touring golf peers would agree. He's one of the pros with whom everyone gets along well. He's easy to play with and is not afraid to talk it up a bit during rounds of competition.

People appreciate Clarke's talent and find him to be an approachable personality. He's a player you root for.

How fitting it is, then, that the people's player won his first Major before his people.