Clarke, McIlroy make Honours list

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Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy have both been recognized in the New Year Honours list for their achievements in 2011.

Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy have both been recognized in the New Year Honours list for their achievements in 2011.

McIlroy has been awarded an MBE for his stunning performance in the US Open and Clarke has been honoured with an OBE for his odds-defying Open Championship victory.

Just two months after his Masters meltdown, 22-year-old McIlroy bounced back in incredible fashion in Maryland, confirming his status as golf’s biggest rising star with a runaway eight-shot victory in the year’s second major.

“I am delighted to be named in the Queen’s New Year Honours list,” said McIlroy.

“It is quite humbling to be included in such a list of worthy recipients.

“Many people on the Honours list have made huge personal sacrifices and contributed significantly to society during their lives. I feel very fortunate to be in their company.”

In many ways, fellow Northern Irishman Darren Clarke’s victory at Royal St. George’s was an even more improbable one, coming as it did at the ripe old age of 42 when many thought his best days were behind him.

Clarke outperformed his more highly ranked opponents for a famous and popular victory – and his first major trophy.

“It is a great honour and a fantastic way to end a great year. I am very proud for me and my family,” said Clarke.

Clarke’s easygoing nature and love of a cigar or a pint has made him a huge favourite with the public.

When he walked off with the claret jug after battling it out on the final day with Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson it was just reward for a long and distinguished career.

“I have had a fantastic year and this just caps it off,” he added.

“It is a privilege to be recognised with an OBE. It is a lot to take in.

“I could not have envisaged the year I have had. Winning The Open was obviously a dream come true, and it was at the 20th attempt.

“I had chances before and at 42 thought that maybe it was just not to be.

“It was a life-changing moment really and in many ways my feet have not touched the floor since. And now this.

“It reflects everything I have achieved in the game which makes me feel very proud.”

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