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Tiger Woods full of praise for Darren Clarke

Golf world number one Tiger Woods said that his close friend Darren Clarke had been the outstanding performer at the Ryder Cup which saw the Ulsterman inspire Europe to a crushing defeat of the Americans in Ireland on Sunday.

Clarke won all three of his matches having recently lost his wife Heather to cancer and along with Lee Westwood had been one of captain Ian Woosnam's two wild card picks.

Woods, who had been in touch with Clarke throughout the intervening period leading up to the Ryder Cup when his friend took time off the sport, was seen twice embracing the Northern Irishman during the weekend.

Firstly when Clarke chipped in to seal victory for him and Westwood over Woods and Jim Furyk on Saturday and subsequently when Clarke won his singles on Sunday over rookie Zach Johnson provoking Clarke into bursting into tears.

"For him to come and play is one thing, but for him to play as well as he did, with as much time off as he has taken, that was truly remarkable," Woods told the BBC.

"We're big friends and I'm very proud to see him play as well as he did."

Clarke's victories in two fourballs matches and in Sunday's singles helped Europe to their third consecutive Ryder Cup triumph and has pushed him into being favourite for the prestigious BBC sports personality of the year award.

Woods was frank about why the American team failed to fire as they went down to their fifth defeat in the last six editions.

"It's pretty simple," he said after topping America's point scorers with three out of five, though, Furyk was largely credited with helping him to two of those points.

"Europe made more putts. They won more matches on the 18th than we did and they holed more putts.

"All the Cups that I've been on, Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, the winning team always holes more putts.

"We got into position to make them but we never did."

September 27, 2006


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