Clark rues close shave

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South Africa's Tim Clark.

Johannesburg – Tim Clark rued a good opportunity to win a tournament after reflecting on his near-miss at the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship over the weekend.

The South African, who led the rain-shortened co-sanctioned Sunshine and European Tour competition heading into Sunday’s final round, blew his victory chances, and a place in the play-offs, on the par-four 17th hole where he recorded a double-bogey six.

It set him back as he ended in a tie for fourth on six-under par, the highest placed local, with Briton Scott Jamieson eventually triumphing in a three-man playoff after ending on seven-under.

Jamieson won on the second playoff hole at Royal Durban Golf Club, edging out Steve Webster of England, while Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva fell by the wayside on the first extra hole.

“I’m disappointed,” Clark said afterwards.

“You always want to put your best foot forward and try to win, but it wasn’t going to be today.

“It was good to play in front of the home fans. It probably hurts a bit more that I wasn’t able to win in front of them.”

The 36-year-old, who won the last of his five tournaments at the Players Championship in 2010, shot a 60 in round one on a course shortened from its original par 70 to 65 due to several waterlogged areas. Clark's last win on the European tour came in 2005 at the Scottish Open.

He then joined the leaders on seven-under with seven holes to play, but his double-bogey ended his chances.

“I was a little unlucky with the tee shot on 17,” he explained.

“Had I been two feet left or right I would have been on the fairway or taking a free drop into the fairway.

“I was in the first cut and there was mud on the ball, so I couldn’t control it coming out of there. It flew left into the bunker and then I missed that short putt, so it was disappointing.”

Clark is only just finding his game again after close to a year out with an elbow injury.

The Umkomaas professional, who has had several injuries to contend with during his career, said it had not been easy to start again after his latest setback.

“This one was a tough one because it came out of nowhere and put me out for a whole year where I didn’t touch a club,” he said. “So when I did start last year it was tough.

“I don’t know (where I get the mental strength from), I think it’s just the will to put yourself into contention to win tournaments.”

He will now head back to his Arizona base in the United States to begin preparations for the new PGA season.

“It will be my first full season in a couple of years, so I’m looking forward to it,” Clark said.

“I’m still looking forward to having a few more years of good golf in me and I still want to win big tournaments.” – Sapa


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