Clarke mulls Ryder role as wife loses cancer fight

Darren Clarke's wife, Heather, died in the early hours of yesterday at London's Royal Marsden Hospital after a long battle with cancer. The Ulster golfer has told those close to him that he has not ruled out making an emotional tribute to the 39-year-old by appearing in next month's Ryder Cup in Dublin.

The primary concern for Clarke, who is 38 today, will obviously be that of his two young sons Tyrone, eight, and Conor, five, and their coming to terms with the loss of their mother.

Such was Heather's popularity, however, that her death will be felt throughout the game, a fact underlined by the entire field at the KLM Open in the Netherlands yesterday donning black ribbons and Paul McGinley declaring that he, too, will be missing this week's USPGA Championship in Chicago.

A great friend of the Clarkes, McGinley revealed that despite the final major being so important for his own hopes of qualifying for Ian Woosnam's team at the K Club, he had to attend Heather's funeral. Details of when or where that will be have yet to be announced.

Yesterday, Clarke paid tribute to his wife of 10 years and the tremendous spirit she showed after being diagnosed with the disease in 2002. "Heather's courage and bravery throughout the last two years when she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer has been an inspiration," he said in a statement released by his management company.

"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." Indeed, even when her condition worsened this year, she beseeched her husband to carry on playing - a truth that his friends believe may just make him accept Woosnam's invitation of a wild card for the K Club - and that he did so with such success spoke of Clarke's courage as well. He held the lead until the latter stages at both the Irish Open and Scottish Open, in spite of his torment being painfully clear.

At last month's Open Championship it became too much and Clarke, on missing the cut, informed the media: "I won't play again for the foreseeable future." Most took that to mean the Ryder Cup, but it now seems that his wife's inspiration will play a massive part in forming his decision. Understandably, all he would say yesterday was that "I will return to the game when I feel ready", echoing his words at Hoylake. "I know that many people will be wondering about the Ryder Cup, but such things are not in my thoughts at the moment. Now is the time to concentrate on matters much more important than golf."

Darren met Heather in a nightclub in Portrush, near his Dungannon home. He asked if she would like a drink and on receiving the shot of sambuca from the bar, accidentally spilled the contents all over her dress. He then dropped the second and, on taking her to the dance floor, accidentally stubbed a cigarette into her new jacket lying on the floor.

Regardless of that unpromising beginning, they quickly began dating and, after marrying, set up home in Sunningdale, Surrey, from where they travelled the world together and raised Tyrone and Conor. In her final years, Heather joined her partner in promoting cancer awareness.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker