PGA Tour: Tim Clark Comes Out of Closet, Captures Players Championship
Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter was on site in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Well "little" Timmy Clark finally did it —he won a U.S. PGA TOUR event.
But he had to come out of the closet to do it.
The Players Championship, a major and the only one of its kind, will do quite nicely for his first win in America.
While relatively small in stature at 5'7" tall and 165 pounds, the 34-year old South African is more than the "little engine that could." Clark did it with guts and determination shooting a bogey free 5-under par round of 67 to post 16-under on a difficult Sunday afternoon on the dried out Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass.
He made up three strokes on Lee Westwood who shot a water laden 74 and beat Robert Allenby by one stroke with Sunday's best round on Mother's Day.
Out of the Closet?
"The Water Closet" that is, the final three finishing holes on Pete Dye's diabolically designed risk-reward test of the world's best golfers.
If you don't "flush" the approach shots to the final three greens (which are all guarded by water) your hopes of winning THE PLAYERS will spiral downward into the drain along with your position on the leaderboard.
Just ask Lee Westwood who failed to land safe and dry on the famed island green par-3 17th hole.
Or Heath Slocum —who at one point got to 15-under par on Saturday before finding water and a double bogey in the middle of "The Water Closet."
It was a PLAYERS Championship to remember
It took Clark 12 years, 206 PGA TOUR events and seven second place finishes to break through and win.
THE PLAYERS victory dwarfs the 1997 U.S. Public Links Amateur title which was his first step on the road to success in Ponte Vedra Beach at the home of the PGA TOUR.
Tiger Woods made the cut as he attempts to resume his professional golfing career at the heart of professional golf.
It wasn't that long ago that he came out of hiding to face the world in the Sunset room of the TPC clubhouse and tell us how sorry he was for making major transgressions in his personal life.
On Sunday afternoon after completing only six holes he withdrew from the competition, citing a sore neck.
To what extent this injury will sideline his plans to defend his title at The Memorial and compete in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach is unknown at this time.
Phil Mickelson looked impressive on Saturday shooting a 66 to get into contention only to falter on Sunday with a 74 as he strives to surpass Woods as the world's No. 1 golfer.
Robert Allenby, who has won four times on the U.S. PGA TOUR but not once in the last nine seasons, had a respectable 67-70 weekend —though he had to settle for second place.
Lucas Glover, the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" of Sunday at THE PLAYERS shot 39 on the front only to turn it around with five birdies and a 31 on the back nine.
The reigning U.S. Open champion finished solo in third place.
Davis Love III, a two-time PLAYERS champion shot the only other round in the 60s —a 68 on a difficult scoring day finishing joint 4th place with Slocum (71), Bo Van Pelt (71), Ben Crane (72), and Westwood.
Westwood continues to knock on the golfing world's biggest doors only to find them closed when the final scores are tallied.
So now Clark, THE PLAYERS Champion, has survived the torture of "The Water Closet," becoming the third international victor in a row and sixth in the last nine championships.
A job well done and a championship well deserved!
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
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