Rude: Clarke lives it up, talks the dark days
Jeff Rude’s “I Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday, the same day as his video show of the same name.
Darren Clarke at the Open Championship 2011
Take a look at Darren Clarke's performance in The Open Championship through pictures.
• When Graeme McDowell won last year’s U.S. Open, he said he might not sober up until the Ryder Cup that fall. Now we can wonder whether fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke, Sunday’s British Open champion, will sober up before the Ryder as well.
In this case, that would be autumn of 2012.
Clarke’s celebratory bender was of epic proportion. He drank beer and wine in partying all night, until about half an hour before his 9 a.m. Monday news conference. Then he flew home to Northern Ireland for more festivities.
“Have to enjoy it when you can,” the surprise 42-year-old winner, a 150-1 shot, understated.
By the time his press conference rolled around, Clarke said he had received 294 congratulatory messages. He also received a call from Tiger Woods on Sunday night. More important, he received a couple of text messages from Woods last week that served as motivation. “They helped when it came to believing I could win,” Clarke said.
Clarke’s victory underscored the value of whistling while you work. He has been moody in past years, affable and then not, to the point some in his management firm referred to him as the Prince of Darkness.
Clarke admitted as much at St. George’s, where he handled himself off the course as well as on. “I was a bit of a horrible prat,” he said in what passed for an apology. “I’d had a bad round and I wouldn’t speak to (the press). I’d be rude, and it wasn’t right. But I hope I’ve learned form my mistakes.”
He certainly learned that letting his attitude affect his golf was much preferrable than the other way around. Such a mind shift aided his victory.
“It’s much easier to perform well,” he said, “with a smile on your face than a scowl.”
Clarke is to be respected as well for his comments about close pal Lee Westwood, No. 2 in the world but majorless though he entered last week with five top-3 finishes in his past seven majors.
“I feel for Lee,” he said. “I don’t know what he will make of my win. He has been so close so many times that it must be difficult in one sense. But I hope it inspires him.”
• The improbability of this can not be overstated. Three men from the small province of Northern Ireland, wheret he population is an estimated 1.7 million, have won three majors in the past 13 or so months.
Next thing we know, some guy from Fiji is going to win three majors and dominate in his 40s.
For certain, next week’s Irish Open at Killarney figures to be a festive affair, with all three bejeweled Ulstermen in attendance. The committee man in charge of adult refreshments might be well served to stock up beyond his imagination.
• One can surmise that Damon (Chicken Man) Green, the former mini-tour superstar who has carved out a handsome living caddying for Scott Hoch and now Zach Johnson, has been the busiest man in golf of late.
Starting in early May, Green has been nothing but on the go. He caddied for Johnson in three consecutive tournaments in May, through the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, then played in the Champions Tour event in Des Moines, then looped again for three straight weeks in June through the Travelers Championship. He left Hartford and tried to Monday qualify for the Champions event in Montreal, flew home for a couple of days and successfully qualified for next week’s U.S. Senior Open.
Then he put the bag back on his shoulder for the John Deere Classic and the British Open. After all that, he shot 66 the day after the Open and successfully qualified for this week’s Senior British Open at Walton Heath in Surrey, England.
“I’m surprised he can play that well after looping and not practicing,” said Mitch Adcock, longtime Green friend and Champions Tour part-timer.
• Clients of Andrew “Chubby” Chandler, head of International Sports Management, have won the three major championships this year and four of the past five.
Thus we enter the PGA Championship in Atlanta next month with the prospect of the so-called Chubby Slam. This is heady stuff, considering Chandler had no major winners in his stable until Louis Oosthuizen’s surprising victory at last year’s British Open at St. Andrews.
• Rory McIlroy, runaway U.S. Open winner at 22, clearly has the makings to break records in bunches. But it seems clear that he would be best served to emulate five-time British Open champion Tom Watson and embrace the windy and miserable weather conditions so often faced on the links of an Open Championship.
One of the most surprising developments of the past week was McIlroy’s admission that he is a fair-weather player.
“I just don’t enjoy playing the conditions we have had here,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. I’d rather play when it’s 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.”
Yes, he is from Portrush, not Phoenix.
• The Open Championship, of course, did away with the 10-shot rule some two decades ago, but it’s time to revisit the matter.
Those who were eight shots off the lead at Royal St. George’s, including world No. 2 Lee Westwood, missed the cut. Given the miserable weekend conditions, players in that position may have had a reasonable chance to still win but had to go home.
Though an R&A executive said no change is likely, it would seem sensible to invoke a regulation that would allow players within eight shots of the lead to play the weekend.
• I don’t know much about anything, but I do know this: A glance at the list of presidents since 1892 at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club near St. George’s suggests you can’t hold that position there unless you are a king, prince, duke, sir, earl, lord, field marshal, lieutenant general, esquire or marquess.
• Clarke’s name had barely been engraved on the Claret Jug before the Cinque Ports captain wrote Clarke a humorous letter of congratulations. A copy was posted on the club’s bulletin board and went like this:
“Thank you for confirming the truth of the Sunningdale Hut episode when you visited the TaylorMade Darts Golf (outing there Open week). Clearly a handful or more of sausage-filled buns is a suitable precursor to winning an Open. . . . I invite you to return, when you are ready. Our sausages are pretty good!!!!!”
Clearly, too, nutritionists must have it all wrong. The current meal of champions would seem to include beer, wine and sausage in copious amounts.