THE DARREN CLARKE STORY – NEW BOOK
Darren Clarke’s tears after his singles victory in the Ryder Cup at the K Club in September were not tears of triumph.
The tears that streamed from Darren Clarke’s eyes when European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam raised his arm in victory at the K Club in September were not tears of triumph.
Clarke has revealed in a new book just published that they were in fact tears of grief for his wife Heather who had died of breast cancer just a few weeks earlier and could not be there to see his unbelievable heroics in the circumstances in an event she had urged him to play in if given the chance.
Called ‘Heroes All: My Ryder Cup Story’ the short, photo-driven book tells in unflinching detail the Ulsterman’s emotional roller-coaster ride through the valleys of grief and loss heading into the Ryder Cup and then of the peaks of triumph and joy and finally nostalgia as he and his European team-mates crushed their Americans rivals by a record-equalling score.
“I wanted to tell my story,” Clarke told Reuters this week.
“It’s been a year with highs as well as lows.
“The support I got from people everywhere was unforgettable and I think with the Ryder Cup victory still very much in people’s minds, it was a good time to share my personal account of the period.”
The 38-year-old Ulsterman is the peoples favourite to win the BBC’s prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award next Sunday, but he has said that he hopes that if he is given the award, it will be based strictly on his achievements on the golf course rather than because of a sympathy vote.
“I am concerned that there would be a sympathy element to it alright. I feel a bit ambivalent about the award because on the one hand it would be great to win because of the Ryder Cup, but I would be wondering why people actually voted for me.”
This because, as he acknowledges in his book, the year of 2006, was clearly shaped by his brave wife’s struggle with her debilitating disease and lingering death which he is something he is still trying to cope with away from the glare of publicity.
“You just have to get on with things,” he says, “But it can be very difficult.
“There are moments where I feel this incredible loneliness, when I really miss Heather. But I have to cope, if only for the boys’ sake.
“Right now my days are full of school runs and Christmas plays.”
“I try to do two weeks on the circuit and two weeks with the boys,” he says, acknowledging that combining his duties as a single father with time consuming effort required to succeed as a successful professional golfer is not an easy thing to achieve, even though his children attend boarding school,
Realizing that he needs to spend more time with them in the immediate future, he is planning to scale down on his golf next year.
“Like any professional sport, it is demanding and means you’re away from home an awful lot. I never considered giving it up. This is what I do; it’s my life. And Heather would have been very upset if I’d thrown in the towel.”
Clarke revealed that he had been deeply touched by the sympathy and support he had received from all sides and was especially impressed by England soccer star David Beckham’s kind gesture..
“I don’t know him at all and I didn’t realised he knew about me, but he took it upon himself to send me two Real Madrid shirts for my boys. It was a fantastic gesture, and just shows the measure of the man. My son’s eyes lit up when I gave them to them.”
There has been a fair amount of media interest in the way he is handling his grief, but while Clarke sometimes finds it difficult to talk openly about it, he holds no grudges.
“I realised that there will always be this big media interest in how I cope with grief. But I know that’s just the way things are and it’s not something I’m going to complain about. As I’ve said, people couldn’t have been better to me.”
Clarke has never seen the DVD’s which feature his outstanding performances at the Ryder Cup, saying, “I don’t know if I will ever get around to doing that.
“It’s not easy to look back on something that emotional.
“It’s there in my mind, and the support I received was second to none. But watching it again would be very tough – and I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet.”
Grief is not always devastating, Sometimes it can be harnessed to achieve great feats as it did for Tiger Woods who won The Open at Royal Liverpool not too many weeks after the death of his father, Earl, whom he called his best friend.
“I think you’ve got to try to take as many positives as possible from something like that,” Clarke says. “You have to remember all the good that someone you loved brought to your life and then play to the very best of your ability in honour of them.
“But there are more important things than golf. My children are very young and looking after them will be my primary focus.”
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