Clarke hopeful for Westwood
Open champion Darren Clarke believes his good friend Lee Westwood can soon end his long wait for a major title.
Last Updated: 19/07/11 8:33am
Darren Clarke is making the most of his first day as a major champion - and he hopes it is only four weeks until Lee Westwood is doing the same.
Up all night celebrating his Open success, the 42-year-old spared a thought for his long-time friend and world number two the day after his own success.
Westwood is the younger by four years, but he was also playing his 54th major at Sandwich and by missing the halfway cut his wait for a victory goes on.
"Lee has done everything he can do to get himself into contention to win," said Clarke.
"He has been there many times (six top-three finishes in the last three years). Unfortunately he's had guys that have played better or have had the bounce of the ball.
"I'm sure things will go his way because he's too good a player. The game is fickle - it hammers you. It hammers you and then it gives you something.
"Of all people, I think Lee Westwood deserves something to be given to him and I'm very sure that he will win majors and not just a major."
Clarke followed Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy as winners of the majors this season.
And not only are they all members of the same management stable as Westwood, but last year's Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is as well.
"Right now it's been tough for him, obviously Rory winning and then me winning and stuff," said Clarke.
"But if I was a gambling man, I would have a substantial bet on Lee Westwood winning the PGA in Atlanta - I hope he does."
The year's final major - the USPGA Championship - begins on August 11-14 and is now one of the events Clarke can add to his schedule.
Not just for this year, but for the next four as well, while his victory earns him an automatic place in The Open until 2030 and in The Masters - a tournament he has not played the last four times - until 2017.
It is an astonishing turnaround for a player who, a week ago, was 111th in the world and without a major top-10 finish for a decade.
Clarke is the third oldest player ever to win his first major. The previous two were 45-year-old Jerry Barber at the 1961 US PGA and 44-year-old Roberto de Vicenzo at the 1967 Open.
Asked if he appreciated what he had achieved more than he would have done when he was close to winning at Troon in 1997 and Lytham in 2001, he said: "Most definitely.
"Ten years ago I did take an awful lot of things for granted as a professional golfer. I'm much more appreciative of what the sponsors do, of what the players do and I'm much more switched on to everything that goes into the tournament."