Darren Clarke will pocket a cool £2 million bonus from Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley if he lifts the Claret Jung at Sandwich today. Add in the winner’s cheque and it could mean a £3m payout for the Dungannon star before he even starts to think about future endoresement deals.
The 42-year old Ulsterman has a no-win no-pay deal with millionaire Ashley’s Sports Direct International company which owns a string of chain stores in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Slovenia.
In February 2003, Ashley bought the Dunlop Slazenger brand for £40 million and two years later he made a deal with International Sports Management’s Andrew “Chubby” Chandler to sign up
Clarke, Lee Westwood and David Howell to wear the Dunlop brand for free.
In return, Ashley promised to pay Clarke and his ISM stable colleagues Lee Westwood and David Howell £2m in any year they win a major.
The deal does not require Ashley to pay the threesome a fee or promote the Ashley-owned Dunlop brand in any way apart from sporting the logo.
Worth an estimated £700 million according to the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List, Ashley is well known for his risk taking and love of gambling.
According to reports, he hardly batted an eyelid when he lost £970,000 in just two hours during a night out at Aspers Casino in Newcastle last January with Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew.
The deal with Clarke, Westwood and Howell has another four years to run but if Clarke continues to play as well as he has played this week, the lay-off could come sooner than Ashley imagined.