Stars of tomorrow learn from today’s Open Champion

Darren Clarke hosted his foundation’s first “Champions Weekend” at Portmarnock since his victory in July’s Open Championship.

The Darren Clarke Foundation (DCF), which started in 2002, welcomed 20 winners from across Ireland to the annual event where they competed at Portmarnock Golf Club and Portmarnock Links and enjoyed a series of clinics hosted by the Champion Golfer of the Year.

Those taking part included winners of the boys and girls national and regional age group championships, all of whom qualified automatically.

In addition special invitations were extended to Leona and Lisa Maguire, both of whom were members of this year’s European Junior Solheim team, Emma Murphy, who won the Irish Midlands Women’s Championship, and Gavin Moynihan, a member the GB&I Boys team.

Clarke, who won the 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s, said:

“I am delighted to have hosted the 2011 Champions Weekend.  One of the main aims of the foundation is to promote and foster junior golf in Ireland.

“My sincere thanks goes to Portmarnock Links and in particular Portmarnock Golf Club which has become the home of the DCF Champions Weekend.

Leona Lisa Maguire“From the feedback I have received the participants seem to have enjoyed themselves and hopefully my advice and mentoring will help them in the development of their golf game.”

The event also saw Clarke award €5,000 bursaries to the 16-year-old Maguire twins, who follow other successful players including 2011 GB&I Walker Cup team member Alan Dunbar in receiving an award from the foundation.

In addition to making the European Junior Solheim team, Leona won the 2011 British Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship and Lisa won the 2011 European Women’s Amateur Championship. Both played in the 2010 Curtis Cup team, at 15-years-old the youngest players ever selected for Great Britian & Ireland.

Duncan Weir, The R&A’s Director of Golf Development, said: “The R&A hugely admires the work of the Darren Clarke Foundation which I am sure will play a part in extending the recent run of Irish success in Major championships long into the future.

“This foundation can be added to a long list of initiatives led by Open Champions including the ever expanding Faldo Series, the Greg Norman Foundation in Australia, the Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen Foundations in South Africa and the Paul Lawrie Foundation in Scotland.

“The work of these great champions ensures that thousands of youngsters are given the opportunity to experience golf and that the stars of tomorrow embark on their careers with as much help and advice as possible.”

Portmarnock Golf Club will host the St Andrews and Jacques Leglise Trophy matches between GB&I and the Continent of Europe at mens and boys levels respectively next year.