Sunday was one of those days. Two remarkable events took place within hours of one another, the kind that remind us there is more to sports than selling ad space on caps and shirts and scoreboards.
Darren Clarke is a man who has endured genuine personal tragedy. Japan is a country that has been through one horror after another in recent months and is still reeling from the natural disasters that have rocked it to the core.
There is nothing that can happen to bring back Clarke’s wife Heather, who died from breast cancer five years ago, leaving him to raise their two sons who were seven and five at the time. There is certainly nothing that can wipe away the death and the suffering caused in Japan by the earthquake and the tsunami that ripped through the country earlier this year.
But Sunday gave those touched by those tragedies a moment to smile and to believe that life can be redemptive.
Clarke’s victory in British Open, 10 years after he last seriously contended in a major championship, was uplifting not only to him and his family and Northern Ireland, but to everyone in the game of golf.
Few players in golf are better-liked than Clarke. He has always been outgoing and funny and self-deprecating. He was always considered a major talent. He led the British Open for three rounds in 1997, and three years later, he easily beat Tiger Woods in the World Match Play final. While he won often around the world, he could never quite get to the finish line in a major.
He was, however, a Ryder Cup stalwart for Europe. Six weeks after Heather’s death in 2006, encouraged by friends and family to play, he won all three matches he played for Ian Woosnam’s team. The memory of the entire European team crowding around Clarke while he wept on Woosnam’s shoulder after his singles victory still lingers.
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