This was also his first major title. The victory ensured that he went home with the coveted Claret Jug, a cheque of $1.45 million with an extra bonus of two million pounds from his kit sponsor.
Phil Mickelson (68) and Dustin Johnson (72) finished joint second.
A visibly ecstatic Clarke said, "It's been a dream since I was a kid to win the Open and I was able to do it. It just feels incredible. I've been unbelievably comfortable and confident in my own ability this week. This is for my two kids, they'll be very proud."
Clarke, who was the overnight leader looked calm and composed, this despite cancelling an early birdie at the second. He reeled off nine straight pars to the 16th and thus effectively sealed a resilient Mickelson.
As a result of the victory, he has now broken into the top 30 from his ranking of 111.
Speaking about his post-match celebrations, the northern-Irishman said, "I think the celebrations could be long...and very enjoyable. There might be some of the black stuff (Guinness) going into that trophy tonight."