It’s one for the fat boys’, said a colleague as he arrived in the office yesterday morning. Of course he was referring to Irish golfer Darren Clarke becoming Open champion after taming the wet and windy Royal St George’s course.
We all love Darren because we like to think he’s one of us, a real man of the people. He’s fond of Guinness, enjoys his food and still sparks up ciggies on his way round the course.
He even cheerfully admitted enjoying a nice bottle of red wine the evening before going out to win the 140th Open Championship.
In an age when professional sportspeople are often robotic slaves to fitness regimes and the appliance of science, we find it refreshing that somebody from the ‘old school’ can still mix it with the best and come out on top.
But in one important respect Darren’s not like us at all. Because there is no way we would have been able to negotiate our way round a links golf course in such an impressive manner, defying pressure and the elements in equal measure while others were found wanting.
That takes an enormous amount of skill and mental strength.
Still, we can dream – and watching Darren somehow makes that dream seem a tiny bit more achievable.
What makes him even more endearing is that he is so self-deprecating about his obvious lack of a six-pack.
Apparently he was due to begin a Weight Watchers diet this week. But as he sipped his favourite pint of the black stuff, he smiled: ‘I’ve got a feeling that I’ve picked the wrong week to be starting that.’
Then there’s the question of age. At 42 Darren is hardly ancient, but only four other men in their 40s have won The Open since the Second World War..
His was a victory for all the rest of us greying 40-somethings with middle-aged spread who still charge around sports fields, imagining glory and trying to keep Old Father Time at bay.
When we look in the mirror and see the wrinkles and the paunch, we can think of Darren and take heart.
And when we go to the pub, we can raise a glass to the man who gives us all hope that we’re not yet past it.