Did Darren Clarke seriously threaten to quit the game after a bad weekend in Morocco in April? Not quite.
“That was just Chubby being Chubby! No, seriously, Morocco was pretty tough. I was one shot off the lead going into the weekend but then I had an absolutely horrible weekend.
“I was scheduled to go to Malaysia right after that but Chubby just said, ‘Take the week off’, so the whole family - myself, Alison and the two boys, and my sister and her husband and their two boys - went to the Bahamas for three weeks.
“We just relaxed and chilled out and I worked on a few things on the course. I came back from there feeling really refreshed and went to Mallorca and won - and things just snowballed from there.”
Chandler knows Clarke better than anyone and he will have seen how moving from London to Portrush will have transformed his famously tempestous client - or at least, partly transformed him.
As he presented Royal Portrush with his Open winner’s medal on Tuesday - his home club Dungannon, it appears, has been obliterated from his memory banks - Clarke confessed that he’s had to change his ways or risk being told a few home truths by his pals.
It’s fantastic being back home again. I lived in London for a long time and I’d go back home after tournaments and I’d go behind my big gates and I wouldn’t come out, whereas here, although I may not have been the easiest guy to interview or talk to in the past, I’m a little bit older now and I’m more comfortable with doing what I have to do.
If at any time I get anywhere above my station here, well, I have a few good friends around here who will give me a good clip around the ear and tell me to settle down a bit … so there’s no chance of me getting carried away here. It’s great being back with family and friends, which I didn’t have in London. It’s totally different.
Hopefully, he will see fit to make a gesture of reconciliation with Dungannon, where he taught himself the game.
His father Godfrey was the greenkeeper there and young Darren spent his youth playing the course, as Godfrey recalled on Sunday evening:
Darren was playing rugby with the Royal Institute in Dungannon and the rugby and golf didn’t mix physically so he’d a choice to make. We had no professional at Dungannon. It was just a matter of walking onto the first tee and hitting a ball. He just picked it up on his own. He never had a lesson until he got to the Ulster boys when he was 14. The fellow who gave him a lesson was John Garner (former Ryder Cup player), he was looking after the Ulster Boys team. He took one look and said ‘there’s nothing I can do for him. Just let him keep on the way he’s going.’ Darren could hit it a country mile.
I didn’t exactly play with him to be quite honest. He went out and played with whoever was available. Whenever I was greenkeeping in Dungannon, I used bring him out at quarter to eight in the morning. Packed lunch, a couple of pound in his pocket, not too much mind you, for drinks and whatnot. He used stay there until half nine or 10 o’clock at night and we’d get a phone call to come and lift him. He might have played 54 holes a day.