DARREN Clarke has hailed his secret beach wedding as a “fantastic day”, and added: “I’m very lucky to have found Alison.”
On Wednesday, it emerged that the Ulster golf ace and reigning Open champion had wed his partner Alison Campbell in the sunny Bahamas.
The celebrity couple – who got engaged in 2010 – were joined on their big day by close friends and family.
Among those attending the private affair were Clarke’s two sons, Tyrone and Conor, both sets of parents and his sister Andrea, with her family.
Fellow Ulster golfer Graeme McDowell – who first introduced the pair – and Clarke’s manager, Chubby Chandler, were also present.
The wedding took place only days after Clarke, 43, played in the prestigious Masters tournament in the US last weekend.
Writing on Twitter yesterday, Clarke thanked his followers for their congratulatory messages.
He said: “Thanks for all your congrats tweets!..we had a fantastic day...I’m very lucky to have found Alison!”
One of his friends, Trevor Kane, owner of the Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae, admitted yesterday he had “an inkling” that the wedding was about to happen.
He told the News Letter: “I was speaking to Darren’s mother who was flying out last Friday to join up with the rest of the family (at the Masters) so we reckoned it was definitely on the cards.
“We were very suspicious and every time we mentioned it to him you could see the twinkle in his eye.
“He is a bit of a devil whenever it comes to keeping people going.”
Describing the newlyweds as a “brilliant” couple, Mr Kane hailed the stabilising effect that Alison has had on the golfer since the tragic loss of his first wife.
Heather Clarke died in 2006 after losing her battle with breast cancer.
“Alison is fantastic for Darren. She will definitely look after him really well and the two boys love her.
“She is a great stability for the whole family. She gets on exceptionally well with everybody.”
Mr Kane insisted the couple had always intended to exchange vows in a low-key manner.
He said: “They had been talking about having a Northern Irish wedding but I think they knew if they got married here it would be big in the media.”
The hotel proprietor said he had not yet personally passed on his good wishes but expects to host a post-wedding party when the couple return to the Province.
“There will be a celebration but it will probably be low key. He actually does not like flashy events and just enjoys being with his friends and family.”
Clarke’s wedding caps a fantastic year for the Portrush golfer who claimed his first Major last summer.
The couple are expected to spend their short honeymoon in the Caribbean before resuming their respective busy schedules.
Clarke is due to play a golf tournament in Korea later this month.