Great Things Come to Those Who Persevere

By Greg Ellis

Everyone knows by now that Darren Clarke is the British Open Champion (that’s right, I still call it the British Open as do many others here in the USA); however, it is how amazing this victory was. Darren Clarke is a great champion for this event and will be a champion for many more professional golf events because of how the man has persevered in his game and in life. He is a single parent, a widower who lost his wife to a battle with breast cancer, (I cannot imagine how difficult that was for him), but he persevered. Now after five years, he is starting his life over with his soon to be new wife to take on all that comes with raising his two boys. Darren Clarke was ranked 111th in the world and no one expected him to win at Royal St. Georges. That did not deter him; nor did the fact that this was his 20th attempt to win the elusive title. He persevered.

Darren Clarke is a self-proclaimed “regular guy”. As he says, “I am not the typical athlete,” as he is heavy, likes an adult beverage, smokes and loves to be sociable. He is loved by all golfers around the world and is without a doubt a fan favorite. I witnessed something that I have never seen in all of my golfing and professional years, and that was to see Darren Clarke receive congratulations from Davis Love III, who made a point to come out and speak with him prior to the trophy presentation on the 18th-hole. You saw Phil Mickelson joking with Darren Clarke prior to the trophy presentation, as well.  You saw Darren Clarke and Dustin Johnson conversing throughout the entire final round. He is truly a “regular guy”.

However, do not be lulled into that “regular guy” image. Darren Clarke is a fierce competitor. He was the best golfer for the week and without a doubt the golfing Gods were shining on him. He fought a bulky putter in round three, that if he would have made half of the putts he missed, he would have run away with the event. He persevered. In the final round, he was the recipient of some great bounces and he took advantage of those bounces. On the final hole, he hit an excellent drive; a good second shot; a first putt past the hole; a miss for his par and a tap in bogey to win the 2011 British Open. Darren Clarke waited twenty years for this Major Championship but he never stopped trying.

As exciting as it was to watch Rory Mcllroy win the US Open in June, this victory for Darren Clarke was the most inspiring Major Championship that I have witnessed in a long time. I do not know if he is the “Champion Golfer of the Year” as the R&A proclaim; but he is a man that never quit and no matter how many times he was knocked down, Darren Clarke rose to the challenge and finally was triumphant. He is definitely the ‘Champion Man of the Year’.