Top golfers McIlroy and Clarke rounding off year with more major plaudits

NORTHERN Ireland golfers Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke rounded off a year in which they both won major tournaments by being recognised in the New Year Honours.

McIlroy, 22, who became the youngest winner of the US Open in 88 years when he triumphed at Bethesda in June, has been awarded an MBE.

And Clarke becomes an OBE after his triumph in the British Open at Sandwich the following month.

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Clarke, 42, finished second behind cyclist Mark Cavendish in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award before Christmas.

McIlroy, who bounced back from a last round collapse at the US Masters to win the US Open two months later, toasted his latest accolade while on holiday.

“It is quite humbling to be included in such a list of worthy recipients,” he said.

“Many people on the honours list have made huge personal sacrifices and contributed significantly to society during their lives.

“I feel very fortunate to be in their company.” Clarke, who also has four Ryder Cup wins to his name, said: “It is a great honour and a fantastic way to end a great year.

“I am very proud for me and my family.”

Elsewhere in the world of sport, former Formula One world champion Nigel Mansell, 58, is recognised with a CBE for his work as president of Jersey-based charity UK Youth.

Doug Ellis, best known for two spells as chairman of Aston Villa Football Club, is knighted for his charity work.

Chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board Giles Clarke is honoured with a CBE in the year that England became the best Test-playing nation in the world. Stuart Hall, who is the presenter of hit television show It’s a Knockout and an eccentric football summariser, gets an OBE for services to broadcasting in a career which stretches back more than 50 years .

The presenter, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on Christmas Day, continues to be a regular contributor to BBC Radio 5 Live with his match reports from the North of England which are notable for their effusive style and flowery prose.

Hall said: “Lots and lots of people do great jobs throughout the world and receive no acknowledgement.

“So for a humble guy like me – Hadfield born and bred – to receive an honour is a great accolade.”