“SO how many people do you have, is it five million, three million?” a colleague asked me this week after Northern Ireland’s latest golfing success.

I informed him that the population is a mere 1.8 million people.

Yet that tiny pool of people has produced three golfing champions within the last year. Graeme McDowell of Portrush won last year’s US Open, with Holywood’s Rory McIlroy repeating the trick this year.

Then on Sunday Darren Clarke from Dungannon became the third person from Northern Ireland to take a major title, winning the Open by three shots.

It is truly remarkable that three people from the same tiny country have won major tournaments in a global sport within 13 months.

It’s the equivalent of three tennis players from Birmingham each winning a Grand Slam in the same year.

In short, Northern Ireland’s current glut of golfing glory is weird – but in a good way.

May I be the latest of around 1.8 million well-wishers to congratulate Darren Clarke on his win at the weekend.

Irish people in general, and Ulster folk in particular, are immensely proud of our compatriots who achieve great things on the world stage.

We’re even proud that we built the most famous ship in the history of sea-faring – even though she didn’t last long after she left Belfast.

Let’s hope Northern Ireland’s golfing greats don’t sink without trace.