Tim Clark wins The Players Championship

By Doug FergusonMay 10, 2010, 2:52 am

The Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tim Clark was good enough to win on three continents and play on three Presidents Cup teams. He was better than everyone but Phil Mickelson in the 2006 Masters.

Good enough to win on the PGA Tour? Clark was starting to wonder.

In more than eight years and 204 tournaments on golf’s toughest circuit, he was a runner-up eight times but nothing more. The worst moment was last year at Colonial, where he missed two putts to win, in regulation and a playoff.

“There was a part of me that thought, ‘Man, what have I been doing?’ When you play that many tournaments, and when you have weeks where you feel like you’ve played well enough to win and you haven’t, it gets a bit frustrating,” Clark said. “You do start to wonder, ‘When is it going to happen for me?’

“Luckily for me, this week I did play my best,” he said. “That’s about as good as I can play.”

Regarded as one of the best players to have never won on the PGA Tour, Clark ended that conversation Sunday by beating the best field in golf at The Players Championship.

And he did it in style.

Trailing by seven shots going into the weekend, Clark set a TPC Sawgrass record with the largest 36-hole comeback, breaking by one the previous mark by Tiger Woods in 2001.

On a frightening Stadium Course that played its toughest in the final round – the greens were so firm they were brown – he didn’t make a single bogey. The 34-year-old South African dropped only one shot on the weekend, and he played the final 26 holes at par or better.

The streak never mattered more than on the final hole.

Having survived the famous island-green 17th hole, Clark faced an 8-foot par putt on the 18th hole. He had a two-shot lead over Robert Allenby of Australia and Lee Westwood of England, but they still had three holes to play, including the par-5 16th that could easily be reached in two shots with an iron.

For Clark, it was about the same length he faced at Colonial last year. It was close to the same length of the birdie putt at the Bob Hope Classic this year, when he finished one shot behind.

“I knew I needed that putt, and I knew I needed it at the Colonial,” Clark said. “Today, I just trusted myself and just tried to get into that shot and tried to hit that shot as best as I could. That’s really the whole key. I think in the past, I’ve maybe been thinking about winning way too much. Today, I just tried to hit every shot as good as I could.”

Allenby hit them just as well. He just didn’t hit two putts quite hard enough.

Allenby can relate to Clark, having won plenty around the world, but not on the PGA Tour since September 2001. Two shots behind, he drilled his approach into 18 feet for eagle and a share of the lead. It lacked just enough pace to fall in.

One shot behind on the 17th, Allenby hit another pure shot that cleared the water, the bunker and looked as though it would funnel to the hole for a tap-in birdie. Instead, it checked up. His putt looked good all the way until it rolled up to the edge of the cup, then turned away. Allenby was so shocked he walked to the edge of the water, and no one would have blamed him for jumping in.

“For it to go up to the hole and take a little look over the top and then come back, that was a bit rude,” Allenby said. “But obviously, the golfing gods were with Tim today, and I can accept that. I did everything that I could possibly do to try and win the tournament.”

Allenby closed with a 70 to finish runner-up for the seventh time since his last PGA Tour victory.

Clark finished at 16-under 272 and earned $1.71 million from the richest prize in golf. It comes with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, and a three-year exemption to the Masters.

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover wound up third with a strong finish – a 31 on the back nine, including a 50-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

Westwood tied for fourth, four shots behind, although he had as good of a chance as anyone. He had a one-shot lead going into the final round, just as he did at the Masters, and held it going to the back nine.

Clark, however, ran off four straight birdies starting and ending with 18-foot putts on No. 9 and No. 12 to take the lead. Westwood, who made so many clutch pars early in the round, kept within two shots by making a 50-foot par on the 15th.

But his birdie putt caught the lip on the 16th, and his tee shot on the 17th clattered against the boards and went into the water, giving him a double bogey.

“Disappointed, but not something I’m going to pull my hair out over,” Westwood said. “If you don’t play well, you don’t deserve to win. And I just didn’t play well over the weekend.”

No one will question whether Clark played well. He was simply at his best.

“I did all I could out there,” Clark said when he finished his round. “That’s as good as I could have played. I feel like I hit every shot I like I wanted to today.”

It led to the best feeling of all – a victory on the PGA Tour.

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.