It still was hard to hide his disappointment.
The South African poured in birdies at such an alarming rate Saturday on the TPC Boston that after making his second eagle, from just over 20 feet on the 298-yard fourth hole, he was 10 under through 13 holes.
Two birdies over his final five holes ' one of them a par 5 ' and he would have a 59.
And after a beautiful sand wedge to 3 feet on the par-5 seventh to reach 11 under for his round, he only needed one birdie over the final two holes to become the fourth player to shoot golfs magic number on the PGA TOUR.
For a while there, there certainly was a chance of 59, he said.
His hopes ended with a 3-iron hybrid right of the 222-yard eighth hole and an 8-foot par putt he failed to convert.
That was end of the dream, he said.
But the second round of the PGA TOUR Playoffs effectively is just beginning.
Clark bogeyed his final two holes and still shot a 9-under 62, giving him a one-shot lead over Mike Weir of Canada going into the final two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
But a dozen players were separated by four shots, including Barclays winner Vijay Singh.
The group does not include British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington. He battled back with a 65, but still missed the cut for the second straight week and now is in jeopardy of missing the TOUR Championship. Masters champion Trevor Immelman made the cut by one shot after a 67, and he might be the only major champion at East Lake.
Weir, who tied the course record Friday with a 61, took a while to warm up until he settled in for a 68. He prefers a stiffer test, but the former Masters champion has won at places like the Bob Hope Classic.
Im going to have to do a little better, Weir said.
Singh, who won The Barclays in a playoff last week to lead the FedExCup standings, picked up three birdies on the final four holes for a 66 and was two shots back at 12-under 130, along with former British Open champion Ben Curtis, who had a 65.
Jim Furyk (65), Sergio Garcia (64) and Ernie Els (65) were in the group at 131 that also included Kevin Streelman, who is turning into this years poster boy of how playing well can pay off big in this points format.
Streelman was No. 102 when the playoffs began, tied for fourth at The Barclays to move up to No. 37, and is continuing a strong run that began after the U.S. Open. The PGA TOUR rookie from Chicago is 78 under par in his last eight tournaments, plus these two rounds.
We all get on streaks where you feel like things are going well, and you try to ride it as long as possible, Streelman said. And I feel like Ive been playing some good golf.
He is assured of making the third round next week in St. Louis for the top 70 in the standings, but that isnt the case for some of those who missed the cut.
That group includes Retief Goosen, Rich Beem, Fred Couples and a couple of Europeans who wasted one last chance to impress Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo as they try to make the European team.
Ian Poulter (74) and Paul Casey (73) both missed the cut, and Poulter lashed out at the media for causing such a distraction that he wasted energy on the wrong things.
Its a joke, Poulter said. Its not the kind of buzz you want to play golf on, trust me. The kind of nonsense thats been in my head for a whole week is not the right kind of pressure.
Its nonsense, he said. Youve read it. Youve wrote it. Some of you might be guilty or not, I dont know. But boy, what one hell of a week.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson nearly joined them, especially after he found the water on No. 16 for a double bogey. But he answered with a 33 on the front nine for a 70 to make the cut on the number at 3-under 139.
And heres a playoff first: Because more than 78 players made the cut (86), there will be a 54-hole cut on Sunday to the top 70, meaning some players, such as Rocco Mediate, better play hard.
Strangely enough, Clark only cared about making the cut when he began the second round.
He put those fears to rest quickly with birdies of 20 feet and 15 feet on his opening two holes, added an 18-foot birdie on the 14th hole, then turned it on starting with the 17th.
His 7-iron settled 2 feet away for birdie, then came an easy up-and-down from behind the par-5 18th green. Clark hit a 9-iron to 2 feet on No. 1, then a 3-iron hybrid over the hazard to 8 feet for eagle on No. 2.
Golfs magic number didnt cross his mind until a big drive to the front edge of the par-4 fourth, and an eagle putt from just over 20 feet that put him 10 under through 13 holes.
Two more birdies over five holes would have allowed him to sign for a 59.
Although I had 59 in my mind once I made that putt, it certainly didnt affect my golf, Clark said. I hit a couple of bad tee shots coming in, but I certainly felt I could hit a few good shots.
The birdie on No. 7 gve him hope, especially with a front left pin on No. 9 that allowed for birdies.
But No. 8 was always going to be tough, he said. And that proved to be true.
Even so, he had the lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship, giving him another chance to earn his first PGA TOUR victory.