Sport


Tim Clark wins Players Championship

11 May 2010

South Africa's Tim Clark stormed to his first US PGA Tour title on Sunday, firing the best round of the day to capture the Players Championship regarded by many as the "fifth Major" by one shot over Robert Allenby.

After eight runner-up finishes, no longer will he be regarded as the best player never to have won a PGA title.

It took a superb effort in the final two rounds to secure the victory, with Clark going 11-under-par over the two days. He ultimately won on 16-under-par 272 after rounds of 68, 71, 66, and 67.

It has taken 206 tournaments for Clark to finally win on the PGA Tour, and afterwards, at the press conference for the winner, he admitted that it had been tough at times to miss out on victories.

"I think the only thing that kept me sane was that I'd won overseas in a few other events," he said. "You know, winning in Australia, the Australian Open a couple of years ago, the Scottish Open and a couple of South African Opens, that kind of helps. I think that if you don't win at all anywhere it could take its toll."

Important tournament

When the long-awaited win finally came, it could hardly have come on a bigger stage, as Clark explained: "Behind the majors this is the biggest tournament and the best field out there and you're always going to look at the history of the majors, but this is certainly ... if there's a number five this is it, but this is just a huge honour and everything that comes with it.

"Yeah, it's a very proud day."

Remarkably, Clark had taken a two-week break just before the event because he had been playing so poorly. In a strange way, he admitted, the break had given him some confidence coming into the event.

His win came just a week before The Crowne Plaza International at The Colonial, a tournament that he led by two shots with five holes to play last year. Steve Stricker ended up lifting the title after a playoff.

Befitting a tournament of The Players Championship's status, the winning cheque was a very substantial $1.71-million. That is almost R13-million, but one imagines there is a part of Clark that if he had been offered the title or the money, after such a long wait he would have picked the title.

"The best I've ever putted'

Looking back on his performance on the very tough TPC Sawgrass, Clark pinpointed the key to his victory. He said: "Particularly in the last two rounds is by far the best I've ever putted." Later, he added that his driving had been of a high standard too. The course demanded both to shoot low like he did.

Having won, he's hoping for even better things to come. "I'm hoping that this will give me that little extra confidence that I needed to probably close off some other tournaments that I should have. You know, this may just be what gets me started," he said.

Among the other South Africans at the Players Championship, Rory Sabbatini finished on two-under-par 286, while Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, and Charl Schwartzel all missed the cut.

World Golf Ranking

Clark's victory has seen him rocket up the Official World Golf Ranking, rising 20 places up to 20th position.

Ernie Els leads all South Africans, in seventh position, while Retief Goosen is in 16th place. Charl Schwartzel, in 24th, gives South Africa four players in the top 25 and Louis Oosthuizen, at 44, makes it five in the top 50.

LEADERBOARD

  • Tim Clark (RSA) 68 71 66 67 - 272

  • Robert Allenby (Aus) 66 70 67 70 - 273

  • Lucas Glover (USA) 70 65 69 70 - 274

  • Davis Love III (USA) 69 68 71 68 - 276

  • Heath Slocum (USA) 67 66 72 71 - 276

  • Bo Van Pelt (USA) 68 69 69 70 - 276

  • Ben Crane (USA) 67 69 68 72 - 276

  • Lee Westwood (Eng) 67 65 70 74 - 276

  • Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 65 71 73 - 277

  • Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 69 70 69 71 - 279

  • Andres Romero (Arg) 69 70 69 71 - 279

  • Chris Stroud (USA) 70 69 66 74 - 279
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