Notes Clarks elbow passes Par 3 test


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tim Clark was 2 under at the Par 3 Tournament, significant not so much because of the score or the event, but the fact the South African played golf.

It was his first competition since he finished second at the Sony Open in Hawaii three months ago.

Clark has been coping with a severe and mysterious injury to his left elbow, which has kept him from even hitting full shots until Tuesday on the practice range at the Masters. There’s still no guarantee he will play in the Masters on Thursday. He first wanted to get through the Par 3 and make up his mind.

In that respect, at least he finished.

“I’ve started to get better the last two weeks,” he said. “In the last few days, they might have found something that’s causing the problem. It could be a pinched nerve in my neck that’s the root of the problem. I’m hoping that’s the case.”

After returning from Honolulu, and when he woke up after his first night at home, his elbow was throbbing. He tried a cortisone shot a few weeks later, and it didn’t get better. Clark actually flew out to Pebble Beach, but he could tell on the range he couldn’t play.

He even tried blood spinning, a painful process that “hurt like crazy.”

It didn’t help.

Clark was in good spirits before the Par 3. Two weeks ago, he felt he had no chance of playing the Masters. A week ago, he had hope. And on Wednesday, he hit full shots on nine holes.

He plans to tee it up Thursday, although his expectations are next to nil. Without having hit full shots in three months, he lacks strength in his arms. Also doubtful is defending his title in The Players Championship next month.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Clark said.

Only after he was done talking about his elbow did he mention the best news of all during his absence. His wife gave birth to their first child Friday, a 6-pound boy they named Jack.

LOVE ALL: Tennis player Andy Roddick’s first trip to the Masters was a memorable one.

The 2003 U.S. Open champion was Zach Johnson’s caddie for the Par 3 Tournament on Wednesday and did a decent job of it, too, with Johnson earning closest-to-the-hole honors on No. 3.

“He gave me some great yardages early on. And then he got tired,” Johnson cracked. “We had a great day. We birdied the first three holes and went from there, and it was fun.”

Roddick, who dropped to 14th in the most recent ATP rankings, took up golf a few years ago. He’d been planning to come to Augusta National with some friends when he mentioned that it would be fun to caddie for someone, and a friend who is business partners with one of Johnson’s friends set it up.

Augusta National is one of golf’s most famous courses, and Roddick said it reminded him of that other treasure on grass, Wimbledon.

“There are a lot of parallels, with the tradition and the pride that everyone takes just being there,” Roddick said. “There are definitely a lot of similarities.”
The better the players get on the PGA Tour, the larger the field gets at the Masters.

It’s enough to prompt Augusta National chairman Billy Payne to say officials will take a close look at their criteria after this Masters to decide whether a change is required.

There are 99 players in the field, the most since 103 in 1966.

“We say every year in response to that question that we look and we study the qualifications, which we do,” Payne said Wednesday. “But we are really going to look at it this year, because there is a maximum number of competitors for which we can give the experience that we want them to have and do it in a way that’s manageable. The 100 pushes that limit quite significantly.”

The biggest change over the past few years has been taking the field of the 30-man Tour Championship to conclude the FedEx Cup, along with the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list. The Masters also began taking winners of PGA Tour events, as long as they are not opposite-field events or part of the Fall Series.

Kevin Streelman and Kevin Na got into the Masters based on getting to the Tour Championship. All that was required of Streelman was finishing third in a playoff event. What also increased the field were 10 players who won PGA Tour events. It’s possible that Tiger Woods not winning and Phil Mickelson winning just once in the last year contributed to that.

“The trends vary every year, and we do look at that and we’ll have a thorough evaluation after the tournament this year,” said Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters’ competition committee. “And we’ll make adjustments if we think it’s necessary.”
The Par 3 Tournament gave Ian Poulter a chance to spend some quality time with his mother.

Poulter’s mother, Theresa, caddied for him during the tournament, a lighthearted family affair before the serious work begins Thursday. The greens are filled with children, looking adorable in their miniature white caddie outfits, and wives and parents are not only allowed to tag along, they’re encouraged.

“Had a great time playing the par 3 with mum on the bag. she has never done that before,” Poulter said afterward on Twitter. “It’s great to share with friends & family. Special.”

Poulter wasn’t the only one to put his mother to work. D.A. Points’ caddie was his mom, Mary Jo, and her only complaint was that the afternoon didn’t last longer.

“He wouldn’t play another nine,” she said. “I begged him to play another nine.”

But Points said he’s already got an idea of how to make it up to her.

“A special coat fitting on Sunday,” he said. “That would maybe do it.”