Clarke parties hard after Open win

British Open champion Darren Clarke admitted Monday he partied so hard after capturing his first major title that he could no longer read hundreds of messages of congratulations flooding in from friends and family.

Clarke furthered his reputation as one of the hardest-living players on tour by celebrating through the night after his three-stroke victory at Royal St. George’s on Sunday.

The 42-year-old Northern Irishman became the tournament’s oldest winner since Roberto Di Vicenzo in 1967, seeing off Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in an exciting final round.

He appeared bleary-eyed before reporters Monday morning at the links course in Sandwich, southeastern England, slurring his words as he described celebrating with the famous Claret Jug.

"I’ve looked at the trophy all night and sort of semi-figured out it’s mine," Clarke said. "I probably won’t get any sleep until [Tuesday] at some stage. Have to enjoy it when you can. I had quite a few pints and quite a few glasses of red wine and it all continued until about 30 minutes ago."

"It’s been a very good night," he added. "I have 294 [SMSes] and the writing is far too small for me to look at them in this state, so I may look at them [Tuesday] at some stage and figure them out."

Clarke said despite his heavy session, he was yet to drink from the trophy.

"I’m a little bit of a traditionalist," he said. "I feel a bit funny about putting stuff in the Claret Jug that shouldn’t be in there. There’s nothing in it as yet. That may not be the case as the week goes by!"

He said he called his sons Tyrone, 12, and Conor, 10, back home in Portrush, Northern Ireland, before embarking on his nocturnal celebrations. They lost their mother, Heather Clarke, to breast cancer in 2006, just six weeks before the emotional Ryder Cup in which Clarke was unbeaten.

Clarke said his first major win was dedicated to them.

"Tyrone was very pleased, very proud," he said. "He said he was going to tell everybody his dad was Open Champion. Conor wanted to know what he could spend all the money on. So it was a huge difference between the two, but they were both very happy."