Second chance for Darren

Darren Clarke says memories of his late wife Heather will always help him as he chases his second Open Championship at Hoylake today.

The Dungannon man, 45, missed the cut here in 2006 as his late wife battled breast cancer and tragically passed away a few weeks later.

He didn’t play again for another two months following her death but eventually returned in heart wrenching fashion to help Europe win the Ryder Cup at The K Club.

Determined to focus on the positive memories of Heather this week, he said: “I look back at tough times in my life off the golf course with more fond memories than bad memories.

“I think if you ask anybody the same question, they’d respond in the same way as myself.

“So I count myself very fortunate because I’ve been very lucky to meet and marry Alison. She’s a wonderful lady and I’ve got a second chance. 

“That’s not taking away from Heather whatsoever. She was my first wife and my first love.

“But my kids are doing well and while of course they miss their Mum terribly, they get on great with Alison and she gets on great with them and they love her to bits. So I feel very fortunate.”

Clarke has had a hard time on the golf course since he won the Open at the age of 42 in 2011.

But he’s always a danger man on links terrain and he’s hoping his links expertise and a hot putter can make him a contender this week.

Hoping his links talent will pay off again, he said: "Links turf is what I do, it's where I practice all the time at home at Royal Portrush and it's great to get back here again.

“My game is okay. I just have to knock in a few putts and get a bit of momentum, and that's what has been missing all year."