May
10
2010
No Longer the Second Coming of Tim Clark
By Stephanie Wei under General

Finally. Tim Clark is a bridesmaid no more. The Penguin waddled his way to his first PGA Tour win at The Players.

Playing flawlessly, Clark fired a final round five-under 67. Before Sunday, with over $14.7 million in earnings on the PGA Tour, he was known as the richest man without a victory.

In his eight-year run on the Tour, he’d come up short in recent years — and I’m not talking about his height at 5’7”. He even has the humor to joke about his penchant for coming in second.

“I mean, a part of me is a bit disappointed because now no one is going to talk about me anymore,” Clark quipped. “At least you had something to write about before. Now I’m just another guy with a win.”

Well, not exactly. He can’t open his palms. Clark was born with a congenital disorder that limits how much he can rotate his forearms. He can’t open the club face with a wedge to hit the ball in the air, said coach Butch Harmon in a 2006 interview. I’m told when he would go to the drive-thru at McDonald’s, he’d ask someone for a hat — he has to hold the hat out the window for the worker to dump the change in there.

Winning The Players might serve as redemption for Clark’s past almost-victories. His most recent bridesmaid title came at the Bob Hope Classic in January, where he was tied for the lead going into the 72nd hole and laid up with a 7-iron on the par-5, missing an eight footer for birdie to lose to Bill Haas. At the Colonial last year, he left a par-putt short on the final hole in regulation and then flubbed a straightaway seven-footer in the first playoff hole to be bested by Steve Stricker. But this Sunday, he didn’t back down under pressure, hitting driver on 18 and draining a seven-footer to save par to win by a shot. Finally.

“There was a part of me that thought, man, what have I been doing? I’ve been — when you play that many tournaments, and suddenly when you have weeks where you feel like you’ve played well enough to win and you haven’t, it gets a bit frustrating.”

He even confided to runner-up Robert Allenby, who can relate as he hasn’t won in the US in nine years.

“I think it was probably a few weeks after Bob Hope where he had a chance to win there,” Allenby remembered. “And he just said, ‘Oh, man, when am I ever going to win? I just can’t get over the line,’ and I said to him, ‘Mate, you’ve just got to be patient, you’ve just got to keep putting yourself in there for a chance on the last day.’ Lo’ and behold, he beat me.”

Maybe Clark’s win will open the floodgates for many more wins on Tour and even a major.

“I’m hoping that this will give me that little extra confidence that I needed to probably close off some other tournaments that I should have,” Clark said. “This may just be what gets me started.”

Just don’t ask him to hit a flop shot. Or to hold his hand out for the change.