Clarke is the Open Champion

Darren Clarke won the Open Championship on his 20th attempt with a lead of three shots in squall-ridden conditions at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England.

Clarke ended the tournament at five-under-par, three shots clear of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson who tied for second in the 140th Open Championship.

He is the second Northern Irishman to win the title, and at 42 he is the oldest player to take the Claret Jug since 1967.

Clarke becoming the Open Champion was the culmination of strong form in 2011, which included a share of 20th in the Joburg Open, a share of 26th in the Africa Open, and his first European Tour win since 2008 at the Iberdrola Open in May.

Clarke, a regular contender on the Sunshine Tour, who carded solid rounds of 68, 68, 69, and 70 in stormy conditions, closed the tournament at five-under-par.

An eagle on the seventh, which came from a brilliant iron layup and a fantastic 20-foot putt, secured the lead for Clarke in the blustering wind of Kent County.

He carded par on the next 10 consecutive holes before making bogeys on the 17th and 18th, but Mickelson and Johnson had been unable to close the gap to Clarke and the two dropped shots made little difference to the result.

Mickelson had a strong start with his bogey-free five-under-par front nine, which included an eagle on the seventh, but a missed four-foot putt on the 11th shook him off his streak and he went on to card a back nine which included four bogeys.

Dustin Johnson struggled to capitalise on his long drives and dropped to four shots behind the lead when he made a double-bogey on the par-five 14th.

The best South African performance in the field came from George Coetzee, who finished 15th at four-over-par, just one shot ahead of Charl Schwartzel who shared 16th at five-over.

Darren Clarke finished his 54th major with a big smile as he tapped in his bogey putt, he had finished three shots in the lead in a tournament in which only four players finished below par.

Clarke goes into the golf halls of fame a deserved Open Champion.

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