SURROUNDED by schoolchildren from across Portrush, golfing hero and Open winner, Darren Clarke, told a civic reception in his honour that the key to success was to “never give up.”
“It’s wonderful to see so many kids here today,” he told a packed Portrush Town Hall on Monday afternoon, after approving a new tourist welcome sign bearing his name and that of Fred Daly and Graeme McDowell.
“Obviously I wouldn’t be standing here without a lot of support,” he said “But the whole secret of that, and I say this to the kids, is to never give up.
“I have felt like it so many times, but I actually never did,” he laughed.
“To get anywhere you have to keep working, working working. And if you feel you are not getting anywhere then go back and practice a little bit harder.
“Because as I have already said you do have some of the best courses here in the world and to follow in the footsteps of G. Mac or of Rory you have no better place to learn that and get better and better.”
Recognising that many of the children present were now taking golf instruction at school, he added: “Just work, then work a little bit harder and that’s how you get to the top.”
Darren, whose name will now go below that of Fred Daly, Open champion 1947, and Graeme McDowell, US Open champion 2010, on a Coleraine Borough Council welcome sign, was welcomed to the civic event by Deputy Mayor, William King, and Royal Portrush Captain, Philip Tweedie.
Although originally from Dungannon, Darren, he said was now “a local hero” and he thanked him for not only his “magnificent achievement” but for making Portrush his home and being so supportive of the town and its people.
Welcoming special guests to the occasion, Deputy Mayor, councillor William King said Council wished to acknowledge the ‘magnificent achievements’ of Darren.
Councillor King said: “I would like to formally congratulate you on your win earlier this year, it was a fantastic tournament to watch and I know from many friends and colleagues we were all watching and shouting at the television as we supported you in your fantastic win of the Open 2011.
“You have been supportive to the people of Portrush and we thought that today the children and the golfers of our futures would come here today and be able to meet you in person and learn from your experiences and congratulate you personally.
“You have gone through so much in the past year and achieved such. I know you have a great supportive family behind you which is essential.
“You have been supportive to the people and the golf club of Portrush, and it is heartening to see how you put back into what you have now made your home town.”
He said Council fully supported Royal Portrush’s bid to host a top professional tournament in 2013.
“We will continue down that road and aim to ensure that we look forward to welcoming more tourists and sports enthusiasts to the area.
“Equally, we will be aiming to do that next year as Portrush is the first stop for the Olympic Flame on Sunday, June 3 and Council will be hosting the first Olympic overnight Party, again here in Portrush. Darren you will be receiving a personal invite to that!
“Darren, as I look around at some of our golfers here in this room who will greatly benefit from your experience, you are a role model to us all, and I look forward to watching you in future tournaments as I believe you are soon to Paris for the next competition.”
Equally conscious of the presence of so many children, Philip Tweedie, captain of Royal Portrush Golf Club, thanked the Open winner for donating his medal to the club and advised all the kids present to get a once in a lifetime photo with Darren after the event.