Clarke's elevated celebrity gets ticket thrown out

Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke

AKRON, Ohio – You win a major championship, you go through a whirlwind for a while, one mixed with celebration and corporate opportunity and answering well-wishers. So it has been for British Open champion Darren Clarke.

After some hard partying the week after, Clarke found that his elevated celebrity helped him when he was stopped while speeding very fast in his Ferrari on the way to last week’s Irish Open. Word is the officer recognized him and Clarke, after posing with the jug and the cop, got off.

Suffering a bit from the man flu – street talk for the after effects of a hangover – Clarke missed the cut at the Irish event. Then he went home to Portrush, finally took a breath and opened some of the countless pieces of congratulatory mail.

“There was some very meaningful notes there,” Clarke said. He might have added some came from some very influential people, including the British prime minister, Ireland president and golf legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

“There’s been lots of ‘well dones’ and handshakes and stuff like that,” Clarke said, “but (some) probably think I’m a fat so-and-so who likes to have a good time, but that’s fine with me.”

Speaking of which, Clarke has been so busy, having fun and otherwise, that his intended conversion to a Weight Watchers diet has been put on hold. The Open fallout has had another effect as well, linked to quiet confidence.

“I’m much more relaxed now to go out and play,” he said. “My determination and desire haven’t gone down. If anything, they’ve gone up (because) I’m much more relaxed about the whole thing.”

Clarke will play the first two rounds of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational with his longtime pal Tiger Woods, back from 12 weeks of recovering from leg injuries. Like everyone else, Clarke said it will be interesting to see how Woods performs.

“Hopefully I’m able to give him a little bit of stick and make him laught a bit,” Clarke said.

Asked why the two have clicked as friends, Clarke deadpanned, “Similar build, similar color, similar stature.”

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