Golf: Major winners named in Britain's Honours List

Northern Irish golf Major winners Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy were among several sportsmen named in Britain's New Years Honours List in London on Saturday.

Clarke, 43, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), five months after winning the British Open, while reigning US Open champion McIlroy, 22, received the Member of the Order British (MBE), the first rung on Britain's honours ladder.

"I have had a fantastic year and this just caps it off," said Clarke. "It is a privilege to be recognised with an OBE. It is a lot to take in.

"I could not have envisaged the year I have had."

McIlroy won the US Open at the Congressional course in June with a record low score of a 16-under-par 268 and his achievement in winning his first major was all the more creditable after his final round collapse while leading in the preceding US Masters.

"I am delighted to be named in the Queen's New Year Honours list," said McIlroy. "It is quite humbling to be included in such a list of worthy recipients.

Former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis, 88 next month, was knighted, and so can call himself 'Sir Doug' - ridding himself perhaps forever of the Villa fans nickname 'Deadly Doug' for his habit of sacking managers - for his charity work in the Midlands.

There were knighthoods too for London 2012 Olympic organisers Charles Allen and John Armitt.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke, whose time in charge has coincided with England's rise to the top of the world Test rankings, was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), one rank below a knighthood.

Meanwhile former Test umpire Dickie Bird who, unusually for a match official became a popular figure with fans all round the world, was advanced to an OBE, having already received the MBE.

"I have always said that standing in three World Cup finals were my best memories but to get this is the greatest honour of my life," explained the 78-year-old Bird, whose latest award was also a recognition for his charity work as well as a cricket career that started as a batsman with his native Yorkshire.

Another Yorkshire sports star to be honoured was Sarah Stevenson, who this year won a taekwondo world championship in spite of having to cope with the death of both her parents through illness.

"It is such a huge honour to receive an MBE and it's fantastic to be recognised for the hard work I have put into taekwondo for the past 21 years," said Stevenson, overlooked for the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year when the broadcaster controversially drew up an all-male shortlist.

"I know my parents would have been so proud of this award."

In rugby union, Scotland's record points and cap holder Chris Paterson, who recently announced his Test retirement, was made an MBE as was Wales flanker Martyn Williams, capped 99 times by his country.

Former dual code union and league international Bev Risman was made an OBE and current England league captain Jamie Peacock an MBE.

- AFP

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