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Darren Clarke's wife Heather dies from cancer

The wife of Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer, the Ryder Cup player's management company said.

Heather Clarke, 39, passed away at 2.15am (0115 GMT) at London's Royal Marsden Hospital.

"Heather's courage and bravery throughout the last two years when she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer has been an inspiration," Clarke, who is 38 on Monday, said in a statement released by International Sports Management.

"Heather never complained once throughout her ordeal and we will all miss her greatly. She was a wonderful and enormously supportive wife, mother and friend."

Clarke, an 11-time winner on the European Tour, altered his playing schedule throughout his wife's battle after she was initially diagnosed in 2002.

He last played competitive golf at the British Open at Royal Liverpool last month before taking time off to be with her and their two sons, Tyrone, 8, and Conor, 5.

George O'Grady, executive director of the European Tour, said in a statement: "Everyone connected with the Tour will be immensely saddened by this news."

Clarke's availability for the Ryder Cup, which starts at the K Club in Dublin on Sept. 22, remains in doubt and European captain Ian Woosnam was among those to pass on his condolences.

He said: "All the players out here on Tour have known that Heather has been struggling for a couple of years now and we just all feel very sorry for Darren and sorry for his family at this time."

Ryder Cup team mate Paul McGinley, a close family friend, has announced his withdrawal from the PGA Championship starting at Medinah in Illinois on Thursday to attend the funeral.

"Our two families are very much intertwined, obviously me and Darren, but Heather and (McGinley's wife) Ali were the best of friends and our kids are in the same class at school. So it is a tough time for us all," he said in a statement.

Clarke had already withdrawn from the PGA Championship.

All players in Sunday's final round of the KLM Open at the Kennemer Club in the Netherlands were wearing black ribbons as a mark of respect.

August 13, 2006



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