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Clark Finally Notches Second Tour Title


Tim Clark was in dire need of a victory. The diminutive, 5'7" North Carolina State grad from Durban, South Africa, hadn't won a tournament since breaking through with his only PGA Tour title, the Players Championship, in 2010.

But all that changed Sunday when he closed with a 65 to win the Canadian Open. Clark carded five birdies on the back nine on the Blue Course at Royal Montreal to catch and overtake Jim Furyk by a stroke.

Beset by an injured elbow that required surgery and caused him to miss virtually a whole year, the 38-year-old has also been adjusting to family life. He admits it's been an uphill climb since his Players win. "I've had a surgery since then," Clark told reporters after accepting the Canadian Open trophy and the $1.026 million winner's check.

"I've had two kids, which is on the good side of it. My life has changed a lot since that win. To have won right now after the year that I've had means a lot.

"I have not had the greatest of years starting from January. I played good in the fall last year, but this year as a calendar year has not been the best for me. To turn it around like I have and now to get myself into Akron (for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone) next week and the PGA means a lot."

He's also been making preparations to convert from a belly putter to a regular flat stick, in advance of the ban on "broomsticks" in 2016. That adjustment has the rest of his game. "I think that's probably been on my mind for the last couple years, knowing that the change is coming, and every time I'm home I'm tinkering with stuff, seeing what I'm going to do," he said.

But Clark recently halted the switch-over plans, a decision he attributed to getting him back on track. "I think that's taken away from my play," he added. "The last month or so I've stopped doing that. I've just stuck to what I'm doing and tried to get it out of my mind, and I think, like I say, it has been taking away from my golf a little bit.

"I've kind of put it to the back now, and I'm going to just do with what I've got now and maybe give it more thought sometime next year."

The Canadian Open victory moved Clark into the top-100 in the world rankings, meaning he'll be teeing it up Thursday in the $9 million World Golf Championships event at Firestone. Here's what Clark had to tell reporters following his big win.

MODERATOR: Welcome 2014 RBC Canadian Open champion Tim Clark to the media center. Tim, a back and forth battle with Jim but you were able to prevail with that clutch par putt on 18. Talk about the emotions once you made that putt and clinched the victory.

TIM CLARK: Yeah, you know, standing in that fairway I felt he might have hit it really close, so it looked like I might have to two putt to be in a playoff. There was a big swing there, and obviously once he had missed his putt, I didn't want to have to go into a playoff knowing that he can take it over the water and I have to play out to the right. I didn't really want to play 18 again in a playoff. It was huge for me to get it finished right there. I just got hot with the putter on that back nine, obviously, and to stand over that putt and still feel confident was very nice.

MODERATOR: You mentioned earlier your first professional victory also came in Canada, New Brunswick Open. You also won the CPGA Championship on what's now PGA Tour Canada that year. If you could tell us what it means to get a PGA Tour victory at the Canadian Open here to maybe bookend and get up to the next level for your career.

TIM CLARK: Well, the irony of it, it could be the place of my first win and my last win. That's pretty interesting. To come back here, yeah, full circle, that's 16 years ago when I was just cutting my teeth as a professional golfer and was fortunate enough to be given some starts up here, as I got ready for Q school and whatnot. So I have fond memories. Like I say, my wife is Canadian and she has a lot of family here in the Montreal area. I've always enjoyed coming up here and playing. I have a lot of Canadian friends. It's a big honor.

Q. Can you speak about specifically your back nine, which was amazing, 30?

TIM CLARK: I played great all week, particularly yesterday was a great round of golf, and the front nine today I was just a little out of sorts. I didn't quite have it with my golf swing or the putter, but making the turn I was still only three back, so I was still in the tournament, and I knew - it looked like Jim wasn't going to make any mistakes. He played pretty solid today, so I knew I had to make birdies, and sometimes that can be easier when you know you have to be aggressive. At that point nothing to lose, and like I say, I suddenly just got hot, and I went with it.

Q. It was good golf and a little bit of karma do you think that propelled you to the Canadian Open given your background here in Canada and your wife?

TIM CLARK: Yeah, possibly, and a few years ago I felt like I had a really good chance to win this tournament when Carl Pettersson won. I was obviously very pleased it was nice that he was the one to win it, but I had a great chance there to win this event, and it's certainly one I've wanted to win for a long time. Any national open championship to me is special, particularly to those people for their country. I know what it means to the Canadian players to play up here, and like I say, it's an honor for me to be the Open champion.

Q. What was the spark and when did you feel like it was going to be your day?

TIM CLARK: You know, it could have even just been the up and down on 10 to be honest. Making par there, I could have quite easily made bogey and that would have put me four back. So making that save really got me pretty comfortable, and then on 11 I didn't have the shortest of birdie putts but it was one where I saw the line straight up the hill pretty much, and I knew if I could get something going I might have a chance, and then when that went in, I knew I was right in it.

Q. How did you spend the break, and did that affect you, your momentum in any way?

TIM CLARK: Obviously not pleased when the siren did go because I felt like I had just hit it to 12 feet or so on 15 is it, and Jim was off the green. But I was able to come out and make that putt. We didn't have that long of a break. We were just in the locker room maybe 15 minutes or so, so lucky it was a quick turnaround and that helped.

Q. What did you do?

TIM CLARK: I just stood there and waited for them to tell us what to do pretty much.

Q. Does it compare somehow to your win at the TPC?

TIM CLARK: Yeah, I mean, any win is very special, particularly since that win - a lot has happened. I've had a surgery since then. I've had two kids, which is on the good side of it. My life has changed a lot since that win. To have won right now after the year that I've had means a lot. I have not had the greatest of years starting from January. I played good in the fall last year, but this year as a calendar year has not been the best for me. To turn it around like I have and now to get myself into Akron next week and the PGA means a lot.

Q. Can you just talk about your first putt on the 18th hole and what you were trying to do there?

TIM CLARK: Just trying to get it close. But that was probably the longest putt I had all day, and it's up a tier and down a tier, so very tough to judge the speed. Yeah, I just - I didn't hit it hard enough. I thought it might run out a little bit more at the end, but having said that, if I was going to leave it anywhere, I wanted to leave it short of the hole. I knew I was going to leave myself a slight down-hiller there, which I kind of wanted. I obviously would have liked to have had a tap in, particularly with the fact that Jim could have quite easily rolled his putt in.

Q. How did you meet your wife?

TIM CLARK: We met in Scottsdale a long time ago, but she was already living out there.

Q. Where is she from?

TIM CLARK: She was born in Toronto, but her dad's family is from Montreal.

Q. When you had the elbow surgery and you sat out - was it a full year off?

TIM CLARK: Pretty much.

Q. Was there a legitimate concern in your mind that you wouldn't be able to return to golf or were you pretty certain that you could?

TIM CLARK: You know, once I had the surgery, which unfortunately I spent four months trying to rehab it and get it better and finally it came down to surgery. Once I had that surgery, I felt like I would be able to recover. But the first few months back at tournament golf was tough. I mean, I don't think I broke 75 for a few months. You know, it's just - you've got to keep persevering. Yeah, I always felt like I'd get back. I'd done it before my first year on Tour, I missed with a wrist surgery. You never give up hope, and I'd like to say it was a lot of hard work, but I do what I need to do. Yeah, I knew my game was coming around a few months ago. I really started to hit the ball nicely, I just wasn't scoring. The John Deere was a big step for me to get myself in the mix, and then today just a dream day.

Q. Have you given any thought to '16 and the change in the putter rule and how that may impact you because you're pretty good with this and you're probably one of the most notable with it.

TIM CLARK: Yeah, I mean, if you looked at my stats this year, I was 130 in putts coming into these last few weeks. So it hasn't been that great. I think that's probably been on my mind for the last couple years, knowing that the change is coming, and every time I'm home I'm tinkering with stuff, seeing what I'm going to do. I think that's taken away from my play. The last month or so I've stopped doing that. I've just stuck to what I'm doing and tried to get it out of my mind, and I think, like I say, it has been taking away from my golf a little bit. I've kind of put it to the back now, and I'm going to just do with what I've got now and maybe give it more thought sometime next year.

Q. What's it like playing in the final 18 with a guy who you're neck and neck with? Are you guys talking? Is there a ton of tension? What's it like?

TIM CLARK: Well, Jim is a great guy. We chatted quite a bit out there, and I just knew it was going to be very tough for me to do anything against him today. He's such a great competitor. He's obviously had a great year, too. You know, like I say, going into the back nine I suddenly had nothing to lose. I didn't really make up any ground on the front nine, and I think I was playing a little bit too conservatively, and then on the back, I said, I have nothing to lose here. He's not going to make any mistakes. I'm going to have to go make some birdies.

Q. A lot of people were thinking that Jim Furyk would be unbeatable in this final round because he has played so well. What about you? Did you think you could beat him today?

TIM CLARK: Not after my first few holes. It was a little shaky. I didn't have a lot of confidence there at the start. But once I got into the round and started to hit some better shots, you know, really all I could worry about was what I was doing. He was still playing some solid golf. I don't remember him missing a fairway - too many fairways or greens. Unfortunately for him he had a few putts skirt the hole and lip out, and unfortunately in this game that's what it takes. You have to be the one that makes those putts, and unfortunately for him it just didn't happen today.

Q. I'm just curious to know how much confidence does this win give you, and looking forward into the next few events, do you think that you can keep this great play going?

TIM CLARK: Yeah, there's no reason why not. You know, obviously it's a case now of trying to find some rest here in the next few weeks because it's going to be busy. I'm going to go to Akron, and I think I got in the PGA Championship with this win, and I was going to go to Greensboro, too, and then the FedEx Cup starts. So you're looking at nine weeks in a row. I'm not sure what I'm going to do just yet. You know, if I stay in this sort of frame of mind, there's no reason why I can't keep it going. Yeah, the next two events are big events for us, particularly the PGA. I'd love to keep it going.

Q. You mentioned a few times both yesterday and today finding something in your swing. Can you talk about that?

TIM CLARK: Today it was more a case of committing to my shot. Every time I didn't quite make up my mind I didn't hit the best of shots. Towards the end there, I knew what sort of situation I was in. There was no point in backing off. I just got a little bit more committed and make better swings that way.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.