Darren Clarke claims British Open

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Updated: July 17, 2011

Darren Clarke won his first major at age 42 after seeing off the challenges of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to lift the British Open Championship trophy in Sandwich, England.

The wet and windy conditions were not enjoyed by Rory McIlroy but it was a different Northern Irishman who grabbed the attention of spectators with his play at Royal St George’s.

Clarke’s form over the first three rounds set him up to be at the top of the leaderboard for the fourth round on Sunday after shooting a 68 on Thursday and Friday and a 69 on Saturday.

Even-par was enough to win the tournament by three shots on Sunday as his score for the championship ended on 5-under par, with Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson tied for second on 2-under.

Mickelson in particular looked to be storming towards a top place finish with a brilliant front nine display, carding three birdies and an eagle on the 7th until he missed a short putt on the 11th for par which seemed to stall his game and he followed up that bogey with another three.

Darren Clarke was in the driver’s seat by the last few holes as he only needed to hang on to the lead and not make any mistakes.

Despite bogeying the last two holes he knew he had the championship in the bag and he three-putted on the 18th green for victory.

Clarke’s win adds another illustrious title to the amount the Northern Ireland pro’s are racking up as Rory McIlroy remarked on Twitter after Clarke’s win; “Northern Ireland… Golf Capital of the world!”

McIlroy himself does not seem to favour the harsh weather conditions as the US Open winner finished tied for 25 with a final score of 7-over par.

He started with a score of one-over on day one and found some form on the second day with one-under but his form slowly slipped in the final two days, shooting a 73 and 74 respectively.

The poor weather was reflected on the scoreboard as only the top four golfers finished under par; the early tournament leader Thomas Bjorn from Denmark came in fourth at one-under after he was not able to recreate his opening day display but remained consistent enough to place highly on the leaderboard.

Graeme McDowell will no doubt be happy for compatriot Clarke after his win but last year’s US Open champion will surely be disappointed about not making the cut after a good opening day performance, ending with a 68, was marred by a 77 on Friday.

Ireland’s Padraig Harrington did not do too much better with as he finished on four-over par which wasn’t enough to make the cut for the weekend’s play.

Sportsnewsireland.com will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.

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