A relieved Tim Clark planned to re-assess his golfing potential after shedding his perennial bridesmaid tag on the PGA Tour with a breakthrough victory at the Players Championship on Sunday.
Long regarded as the best player on the circuit without a title to his name, the straight-hitting but medium-length South African outclassed one of the strongest fields in the game with a superb display over the weekend.
On a TPC Sawgrass layout running fast and firm, he closed with rounds of six-under-par 66 and 67 to triumph by a shot over Australian Robert Allenby in the $9.5 million event dubbed the fifth major.
“I’m over the moon,” a smiling Clark told reporters after winning for the first time in 206 starts on the U.S. circuit.
“I’m hoping this will give me that little extra confidence I needed to close off some other tournaments that I should have (won). This may just be what gets me started.”
A three-times winner on the European Tour who clinched the 2008 Australian Open, Clark is renowned for his accuracy and short game but has long felt penalised by his medium-length hitting.
“I didn’t think I hit it far enough to be a top player on the tour,” the 34-year-old said. “Maybe this week will show me I can set my standards a little bit higher and from here on try and achieve a little bit more.”
Clark had previously been a runner-up eight times on the U.S. circuit while piling up career earnings of $14.7 million, and had become increasingly frustrated by his near-misses.
“Had I not won a tournament and come to the end of my PGA Tour career, there would have been some issues,” he said. “And I probably would have needed some help with that.
“I think the only thing that kept me sane was the fact that I had won overseas … that kind of helps. If you don’t win at all anywhere, then it could take its toll.”
Clark, who set up his Players Championship victory with a sizzling run of five birdies in six holes round the turn, said his putting at Sawgrass was the hottest of his career.
“The last two days is by far the best I’ve ever putted,” he said. “I got a little bit more upright with the putter and I just somehow got some confidence. It’s just amazing when you feel like that what you can do.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)