Ryder Cup LogoRyder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image Darren Clarke receives a hug from European Captain Ian Woosnam after winning his fourballs match with Lee Westwood

Clarke - Crowd reaction was something I will never forget

Steven Franklin, Press Officer
22 September 2006

The Irish are not reserved about displaying their emotions, but still the affection and sympathy shown to Darren Clarke during his opening round at The 2006 Ryder Cup was a sight – and a sound – to behold. It was, as the man himself said afterwards, something he would never forget.

“Obviously it was an emotional moment on the first tee, as it was always going to be. The reception is something I’ll never forget. Indeed, Lee (Westwood), Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco gave me hugs and it was a very, very special moment, very touching,” commented Clarke, who lost his wife Heather to cancer only last month.

“Having two guys like Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco giving me a hug on the first tee in The Ryder Cup is what the competition is all about. It's not about animosity; it’s about a match that we both want to win amongst friends. They showed great sympathy with me, as all of the American team have done this week, and it's been very nice, very kind of them.”

Somehow, Clarke managed to keep his emotions in check and flush his drive down the fairway, follow it with a sweet second and then hole the birdie putt to send his partnership with Westwood into the early ascendancy.

It was a statement of character and intent. Seventeen holes later it was a valuable point in the bag for the European cause after a one hole win.

“I’m obviously very, very pleased that I got a point, that Lee and I have got a point for the team. It was always going to be a big morning for me. I said I’ll get myself through this week, and so far I think I’ve done that pretty well.”

Clarke’s ‘big morning’ did not get off to the most auspice of starts due to the fact that he had forgotten to set his alarm when he went to bed at The K Club on Thursday night.

“I don’t know how I managed to wake up. I woke up at, I don’t know, 6:20am or something and I was supposed to be downstairs at 6:45am, so it was a bit of a rush,” said Clarke.

Lady Luck was obviously smiling on him and no one in Ireland, or anywhere come to that, would begrudge him.

Video Highlights

Darren Clarke Sunday Video Recap
Check out all the great highlights from Sunday's European victory. Watch

Memorable Moments

  • 1969: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the final day.