At the start of 2008, Darren Clarke's chance of appearing in this year's Ryder Cup in September could have been likened to a snowball's survival in hell.
Darren was born in Dungannon, County Tyrone on 14 August 1968, became a professional in 1990 and immediately made a name for himself by recording scores of 60 twice. The first came in the European Monte Carlo Open in 1992; and he repeated the feat in the European Open at the K club in 1999.
Clarke cemented his worldwide reputation when he won the World Golf Championship, beating Tiger Woods 4 and 3 to take the $1 million prize. He repeated the success in winning the NEC Invitational at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio.
He has appeared in five Ryder Cup teams during 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004 & 2006. The latter appearance came just a few weeks after the death of his wife, Heather, from cancer.
The tragedy took a lot from Darren, as he has two sons to care for, Tyrone (6) and Conor (2). His world was shot to pieces and his appearance at The K Club illustrated his true grit.
After the match, golf became secondary and many believed he would never again dominate in the game.
His game really went to pieces and he rapidly dropped down in the world ratings.
Just two months ago. he made a stupendous comeback in winning the BWA Asian Open in Shanghai.
Last weekend, he romped away with the KLM Dutch Open with scores of 68, 64, 66 and 66 to finish four shots ahead of his good friend and Ryder Cup colleague, Paul McGinley.
In years gone by, in County Tyrone, bards from the town of Dungannon toured the countryside during the winter evenings entertaining. On reaching a cottage they would inevitably rap on the door, to be greeted from within with the words: "Come in, Dungannon, for I know your knock."
Hopefully, Nick Faldo will respond in the affirmative to Darren's knock, as he considers his "picks" for this years match.