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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 August 2006, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Clarke left to mourn wife's death
Darren and Heather Clarke
Clarke's wife had been battling cancer since 2004
Darren Clarke's wife Heather has died after a long battle with breast cancer.

The Irish Ryder Cup star said at last month's Open Championship that he was taking an extended break from golf because her condition had worsened.

In a statement, Clarke said that Heather, 39, passed away at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London in the early hours of Sunday.

She and her husband, who is 38 on Monday, have two sons, Tyrone (aged 8) and Conor (5).

Clarke said: "Heather's courage and bravery throughout the last two years when she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer has been an inspiration.

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Brian

"She never complained once throughout her ordeal and we will all miss her greatly.

"She was a wonderful and enormously supportive wife, mother and friend."

No funeral details have been announced yet, and Clarke said in the statement that he will return to golf "when he feels ready".

The couple originally met in a nightclub in Portrush, Northern Ireland, and the family lived at Sunningdale, Berkshire.

The grieving Clarke now seems almost certain to miss next month's Ryder Cup at the K Club near Dublin.

A member of the last four European teams, he is 30th in the standings after missing several events to spend time with his family.

At the Open, he shot a first round of 69 but then missed the cut after an 82 and announced he would not be playing "for the foreseeable future" because of Heather's health.

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