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Darren Clarke is a professional golfer known for his eccentricity and for playing through adversity to great success.
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Darren Clarke started playing golf at the age of 11 and earned his first victory in 1993 at the Alfred Dunhill Open. Clarke was a member of the European team at the 1997 and 1999 Ryder Cup events and defeated Tiger Woods to clinch his first PGA Tour win in 2000. Clarke’s wife died of cancer in 2006, but despite his grief he helped his team to Ryder Cup victory that year.
Athlete and professional golfer Darren Clarke was born on August 14, 1968, in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. Clarke started playing golf at the age of 11 and sometimes caddied for his father. He turned professional in 1990. Clarke earned his first victory three years later at the Alfred Dunhill Open. Clarke was a member of the European team at the 1997 and 1999 Ryder Cup events. He defeated Tiger Woods to clinch his first PGA Tour win in 2000 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships event.
Once prone to tantrums, Clarke often got frustrated when he wasn't playing as well as he thought he could. Off the course, he is known for his love of wine, cigarettes and cars. He has even owned a Ferrari with the license plate "DC 60" his initials and his lowest round score. Clarke was the first European player to score 60 twice in competition.
Clarke's life took a dramatic turn in December 2001 when his wife, Heather, was diagnosed with breast cancer. He took stock of his life and returned to the game with a new attitude, working to keep his anger in check. He also started a fitness regime, which helped him lose 30 pounds. His hard work paid off. Clarke won the Compass Group English Open in 2002 and achieved his second PGA Tour victory the following year at WGC-NEC Invitational. He was also a part of the winning European team at the Ryder Cup in 2002 and 2004.
Clarke again experienced personal hardship when his wife began another battle against cancer in 2005. He played only 12 events that year, choosing to focus on his wife and two young sons, Tyrone and Conor. Clarke still managed to finish in the top ten of five of those events. The next year, his wife's condition worsened. She died in August 2006.
Despite his grief, Clarke joined the 2006 European team at the Ryder Cup. A fan favorite, Clarke was cheered on by the crowds and his peers offered their condolences. Clarke and Lee Westwood, playing as a team, beat Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. The pair achieved another victory over Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco. On the final day of the event, everyone watched as Clarke defeated Zach Johnson in a singles match, helping his team secure a win over the Americans. During the competition, Clarke showed the world his superior skills as a golfer, even in the face of such a great personal loss.
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