Darren Clarke is a Ryder Cup legend who captained the team in 2016 at Hazeltine National. The highlight of his illustrious career occurred in 2011, when he won the 140th Open Championship at Royal St Georges, defeating Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in tough conditions on the Kent coast. In 2006, the 14-time European Tour winner enjoyed what was arguably his best Ryder Cup performance, going undefeated in three matches as Europe won an epic encounter at the K Club in Ireland.
In 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2006, he was part of five successive European Ryder Cup teams, winning four times. He was also selected as a non-playing Vice Captain by Colin Montgomerie in 2010 and Paul McGinley in 2014.
Read on as we reminisce the highs and lows of Clarke’s formidable golfing career, and get a sneak peak of an exclusive interview with the man himself.
Darren Clarke at the 2006 Ryder Cup
September 2006 was without a doubt the peak of Clarke's long Ryder Cup career, and it ranks among the best in the event's rich history. It had only been six weeks since his wife, Heather, sadly passed away. Nonetheless, he received a call from Ian Woosnam asking him to be a Captain's pick, and he did not disappoint. Winning three matches, Clarke was a stand out performer at the K Club, helping Europe to a famous victory on Irish shores.
In the final match of the Friday morning fourballs, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood came out on top of Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, following a rapturous greeting for Clarke on the first tee.
On the Saturday, Clarke and Westwood partnered up again, defeating Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk 3 & 2. It became clear that a historic performance was in the making on Sunday afternoon on the 16th green, when Clarke defeated Zach Johnson 3 & 2 for what appeared to be the winning point - though nobody around the green knew that Luke Donald had holed out moments earlier.
Darren Clarke - Ryder Cup Captain
On 18th February, 2015, Clarke was appointed the 2016 Ryder Cup Captain. He was chosen by a five-member panel that included the last three Ryder Cup Captains: Paul McGinley, José Mara Olazábal, Colin Montgomerie, David Howell (another ex-Ryder Cup player), and European Tour chief executive George O'Grady.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be another success story for Darren Clarke, as the final score of 17-11 was the largest margin of victory for the Americans since 1981.
The Americans got off to an excellent start by sweeping the first four matches, giving the home supporters something to cheer about. The Europeans swiftly closed the gap, pulling within 5-3 by nightfall on the first day, but by the end of day two, they were still down 9 ½ to 6 ½ going into Sunday's singles.
That final day was one of the most unforgettable moments in recent history for the Americans. In Sunday's first match, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy battled head-to-head, launching haymakers at each other while delighting the Minnesota audience with birdie after birdie. Despite Reed's heroics, the Europeans won three of the first five matches on Sunday to reduce the gap, but they only won one more match the rest of the way.
Whilst Darren didn’t quite have the weekend he was hoping for as captain at Hazeltine National, his Ryder Cup legacy makes him one of Europe’s greatest ever Ryder Cup players.
An exclusive interview with Darren Clarke
Head over to GolfMagic where you will find an exclusive interview with Darren Clarke himself, where he shares his thoughts on Team Europe at the Ryder Cup 2021, as well as his personal experiences with CBD oil for golf.