Sunday, 24 September 2006

Wonderful Darren Clarke

Only miserable news reporting by ITN has marred what has been a fantastic 3 days of golf.

(The European Team dressed to collect their trophy in the resplendent pink of a Breast Cancer charity and thus in honour of Heather Clarke, recently deceased wife of the victorious Darren Clarke, and the ITN reporter describes it as a "dubious choice of colour for their jackets...".)

In what is the epitomy of individual sports, the Ryder Cup offers the most amazing spectacle. Suddenly, what appear to be deeply selfish and driven sportsmen are thrown together to win or lose as a team, and to be honest, only the Europeans looked as though they meant it.

So many names to congratulate. Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Colin Montgomerie all played fabulously well. The Irish contingent had a good week on home turf. Harrington average, McGinley terrific. But Darren Clarke was quite simply sublime.

This is his Ryder Cup, and it is a tale of tragedy and amazing strength of character. Having lost his wife to cancer just a month ago, he displayed huge talent to remain undefeated in all his matches. He was carried by the enormous support of the partisan Irish crowd but he delivered through skill rather than sympathy.

I watched the end in tears of admiration for his courage and determination. It was very moving to see someone receive such genuine displays of love and appreciation from teammates and adversaries alike. I am certain, however, that whatever the wonders of winning the Cup, he would give it all up to have his wife back.

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