In 2009 Tim Clark pushed his streak of finishing 2nd at once on the PGA Tour to five frustrating years. The South African has finally put the brakes on that run, and with a win at the THE PLAYERS today hopes to start a new tradition of winning on the world’s biggest tour.
The 34 year-old Durban native has become a familiar site on the PGA Tour since he first became a member in 2001. His steady, consistent play has been his trademark, but winning has just not been in the cards. A previous winner on the Canadian, South African, European, and Nationwide Tours, and a 3-time Presidents Cup Team Member (’03,’05,’09), that success has never translated on to the PGA Tour where Clark has racked up eight second-place finishes. Finally, he has the win he has been seeking and he made his first one a real beauty.
“I feel like I hit every shot I wanted to today,” said the newly crowned champion. That he did, as Clark posted 67 on Sunday, the lowest round of any player in the field. It was even more impressive than his 66 on Saturday when scoring conditions were much more amenable. Clark achieved his five under par total on Sunday on holes 7 through 12 where he compiled five birdies, including four consecutively on holes 9 through 12. After that he hung on with solid putt after solid putt to maintain a stranglehold on the lead. “I must have gotten some inspiration from Rory,” said Clark about the hot stretch that mimicked the play of Rory McIlroy at Quail Hollow last week.
Robert Allenby was the only man to bring Clark’s possible win into any doubt after a birdie on the 16th hole on Sunday pushed him to one stroke off the lead. Unfortunately for the Australian he would leave a very makable birdie putt short of the hole on 17 and fail to catch Clark on the last hole when his approach shot sailed right of the green. From there he could not convert the birdie he needed to push Clark to extra holes.
Allenby would not have needed that putt to force a playoff if Clark had not managed to hole his 7 foot, 9 inch par putt for his final stroke of the tournament. It was a clutch moment that he can certainly lean on in the years ahead. “I just told myself to trust myself and hit it,” said Clark of the fateful putt. “It worked out,” he added with a smile.
Third round leader Lee Westwood stumbled down the stretch, barely scraping out a 39 on the final nine, including a wet double bogey on the island green 17th. A tied for fourth was the Englishman’s fate.
After a circuitous route that saw him go from being the 1997 U.S. Publinks Amateur winner to grabbing professional titles around the world, Tim Clark can finally say he is a PGA Tour winner. It may have taken more than 200 tournaments for it to happen but never again will he have to answer the question about why he has not won on the PGA Tour.
Said Clark, who cashes a check of $1.71 million for the win, “I came out today and showed what I can do on the golf course; I was really pleased.”
And he should be, after all not only is he a PGA Tour winner; he is THE PLAYERS Champion.
It’s a huge win, and while it is Tim Clark’s first, after what he showed he is capable of this week more than likely it will not be his last.
This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)