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Ireland's major drought a thing of the past

Updated: Sunday, 17 Jul 2011 21:25

From the island of major winners - Darren Clarke's drought is well and truly over
From the island of major winners - Darren Clarke's drought is well and truly over

Four years ago no Irish golfer had won a major since Fred Daly in the 1947 Open. How times have changed!

Padraig Harrington won three of the next six, then Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy won back-to-back US Opens and now Darren Clarke has joined them.

Here is a look back at the major triumphs:

2007 Open at Carnoustie: Harrington was six behind Sergio Garcia with a round to go but, after charging into contention, double bogeyed the last to hand the advantage back to the Spaniard.

However, Garcia bogeyed the final hole to fall into a tie. In a four-hole play-off, Harrington recorded a birdie at the first extra hole and held his nerve over the next three.

‘I never let myself think I had just thrown away the Open on the 18th,’ he said.

2008 Open at Birkdale: Harrington, a doubtful starter because of a wrist injury, made the line-up and played a brilliant back nine on the last day, highlighted by an eagle on the 17th.

A winner by four shots from Ian Poulter, he became the first European since James Braid in 1906 to retain the title.

‘It’s a lot shinier than I remember,’ he said of the trophy he had handed back at the start of the week.

2008 US PGA at Oakland Hills: Garcia and Harrington went head-to-head again and the result was the same.

Harrington’s victory ended Europe’s 78-year wait for a PGA winner.

‘I’m actually disappointed I’m seven months away from the next major,’ he said.

2010 US Open at Pebble Beach: Tony Jacklin was the last European winner of the trophy in 1970, and when Dustin Johnson was three shots clear starting his final round, it didn’t look good again.

But Johnson posted early triple and double bogeys, crashing to an 82. Meanwhile, world number 37 Graeme McDowell held his nerve to lift the trophy.

‘Careers are defined by major championships and my career’s off and running today,’ he comments.

2011 US Open at Congressional: Two months after a closing 80 when four shots clear at The Masters, McIlroy opened up with a 65.

From three in front after round one, he went six clear with a 66, then eight ahead with a 68, setting 36-hole and 54-hole records.

And there was no nightmare on this occasion as he ran away with the trophy, having finished eight shots clear of his nearest pursuer.

‘At Augusta it was all a bit new to me. I have a clear mind now,’ says the 22-year-old.

2011 Open at Royal St George's: English amateur Tom Lewis and 2003 Sandwich runner-up Thomas Bjorn led after opening rounds of 65, but, at halfway, Clarke and American Lucas Glover took over.

A Saturday 69 - one of only three sub-70 scores in the wind and rain - left Clarke one shot ahead going into his final round.

‘The Open is the biggest and best tournament in the world. Nineteen times I’ve failed, now I’ve won - it’s a dream come true,’ he said.

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