After a career full of near-misses, a period of recession, and personal heartbreak, Darren Clarke has won the 2011 British Open. And Northern Ireland's beloved veteran could scarcely have done it more fittingly.
Clarke finished at 5-under for the tournament after a even-par final round 70, and pulled away from the field at Royal St. George's this week by playing more consistent golf than any other player. Clarke was the only player to play four rounds at par or better this week, but never went lower than 2-under for a day, stringing together a 68-68-69-70 week that left him three strokes clear of second place finishers Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
This is Clarke's first major championship, and he set a dubious record for persistence by breaking through at the Open Championship. Clarke is now the golfer with the most British Open appearances before his first victory, getting it done this year in his 20th start.
The chances that the gregarious, fun-loving Clarke won't be celebrating this victory into the wee hours in Sandwich (or, perhaps, elsewhere) are slim.
For more 2011 British Open news and results, stay with this StoryStream, visit SB Nation's golf hub, and check out our golf blog, Waggle Room. For full 2011 British Open scores, visit the official Open Championship leaderboard.