By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
There are only two weeks left for players outside the top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking to qualify for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship Feb 22-26 in Marana, Ariz. In other words, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington, among others, have some work to do.
Singh and Harrington are 69th and 90th, respectively, and in need of strong performances in one or more likely both of the next two weeks. Singh is in the field for this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, while Harrington has the week off.
Last year, Singh also failed to qualify.
Other notables on the outside looking in include Sean O’Hair (68th), Sony Open in Hawaii winner Johnson Wagner (70th) and last year’s Wells Fargo Championship winner Lucas Glover, who is 77th in the world and has yet to play this year after withdrawing from the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions with a knee injury.
The player currently on the bubble at No. 64 is the Netherlands’ Joost Luiten. However with Phil Mickelson having already said that he plans to take that week off, the field would then extend to the 65th player in the world -- currently Rory Sabbatini.
Also among those outside the top 64: Kyle Stanley. The hard-luck loser of the Farmers Insurance Open is 87th in the world. Had he won at Torrey Pines, he would have moved up to 64th.
Others in more dire circumstances include Branden Grace, a two-time winner on the European Tour this year who has only climbed to 93rd; Camilo Villegas (99th); Anthony Kim (102nd); and Stewart Cink (138th).
Only once in Cink’s career has he failed to qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Champisonhip, a tournament he’s been dominant in with six trips to at least the quarterfinals. On four of those occasions Cink reached at least the semifinals, including from 2008 to 2010 when he finished second, third and tied for fifth.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Tim Clark is recovering from surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right elbow.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Thomas Graham on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at the Cleveland Clinic. The former PLAYERS champion said in a telephone interview on Friday that he hopes to be hitting balls in about three months and he expects to be ready for the 2012 season.
"The main thing is getting the strength back," Clark said. "I could reinjure it if I tried to start playing too soon."
Clark first felt the pain in his elbow the morning after he tied for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii, playing 36 holes on Sunday. He had taken the red-eye home and when he woke up the next morning "it was just killing me."
Clark had hoped that rest and therapy would cure what was originally thought to be a case of tennis elbow. But an MRI six weeks ago revealed that the tear was worse than it had been in January, so Clark opted for the surgery.
"The toughest part was obviously the majors, missing playing the majors and some of the big events," Clark said. "That's why I played the Masters and PLAYERS, even though I probably shouldn't have."
Clark ended up missing the cut at the Masters, shooting consecutives 73s, and he had to withdraw from THE PLAYERS after shooting 74. In all, Clark played in just four events this year.
Clark, who currently is ninth in the International Team standings, will also miss competing in The Presidents Cup for the fourth time. But he told Captain Greg Norman he'd be glad to help in any way he could, and the Aussie took Clark up on his offer -- naming him as one of his assistant captains.
"Obviously, it's always a goal of mine to play my way onto the team," Clark said. "It is such a fun event and something I certainly have enjoyed a lot. When I realized we would have to do surgery, it was a huge disappointment. But I wanted to help, so I told them if they needed me in any way shape or form, I would be available.
"Greg and (assistant captain) Frank (Nobilo) spoke about it. I was extremely honored that Greg would think of me in that light. Playing for him at Harding Park (in 2009) was great. He's a great captain and hopefully I can bring something a little different to the table."
By the time he gets to Royal Melbourne in November, Clark hopes to be doing strengthening exercises and maybe even chipping and putting. He's been going to the gym doing other exercises to increase his flexibility and expects to be in a soft cast late next week.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Defending PLAYERS champion Tim Clark just withdrew after 10 holes here in the second round, citing an elbow injury.
He was 2 over in the second round after shooting 74 Thursday. THE PLAYERS was just his fourth tournament of the 2011 season.
Clark has been suffering from tendonitis in the elbow since a runner-up finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii. This was his first start since last month’s Masters where he shot two 73s and missed the cut.
Clark still plans to stick around for Sunday's ceremony to crown the new PLAYERS champion. He said he wouldn’t have tried to play if it weren’t THE PLAYERS and the first title defense of the South African’s career.
“It’s been getting better for sure over the last couple weeks, but I had to test it out, see where I was, and it's not good enough to go right now,” Clark said. “I do feel like it's still going to progress and get better, so I'm hoping to be back obviously as soon as possible.”
Clark said he was disappointed at having to pull out, especially since he was "pain free" during Thursday's first round. The more shots he hit Friday, though, the more intense the pain.
"It's just been getting a little worse as the day went on,” Clark said. “I hit a shot out of the rough on 9, and I could feel it getting worse. There's just no point in staying. I tried as good as I can for two days.
“At the moment it's starting to get a little worse. I can see it's swollen right now, and there's no point.”
Clark won’t be playing in next week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, as planned., either. He had tied for second there twice in the last three years.
“II can't finish two rounds here, how am I going to finish two there?” Clark said. “But I'm going to go to Fort Worth and continue treatment with the guys. I'm just going to stay on top of it. I
“I can't get too despondent and down on myself. It has been getting better, which is a good sign, so I'm going to try and stay positive and keep working at it.”
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Defending champion Tim Clark's first round of golf in more than a month went about like he expected.
Some good, some bad. Some pain, some progress.
Clark shot 2-over 74 in Thursday’s opening round of THE PLAYERS Championship, a mostly trouble-free day that came as the South African tries to return from an elbow injury so severe he went three months without playing and only teed it up at the Masters in April because he was stubborn. He had rounds of 73-73 and missed the cut.
He felt considerably better at TPC Sawgrass.
"For the most part, it's getting better, so I'm encouraged by that," said Clark, the tournament's defending champion. "It's better than I expected it would be two weeks ago. If you asked me two weeks ago, I didn't even know if I would be able to play. So it's improved a lot."
Clark was runner-up at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January, but upon returning home noticed a problem in his elbow. Despite pain, he played in the Masters, but only because it's a major. He took out his clubs Saturday for the first time since Augusta and returned to defend his lone PGA TOUR victory.
"You've got to at some point test it to see where you're at," he said. "You've got to come out and play. There's always a possibility that by actually playing and doing stuff that it gets better. At some point I would have started to play and this just kind of fit right around the right sort of time."
He made two birdies and four bogeys Thursday, and had one club slip out of his hands. After hitting his tee shot on the par-3 No. 13, the club soared from his grip.
"You've got to hit a divot and dig it in," he said. "It wasn't a massive amount of pain, but I'm cautious of it. I'm scared to dig it in."
He ended up 50 feet left of the hole and made par. It was one of several awkward-feeling shots during the round.
"Every now and then, I have a good swing and it feels good," said Clark, who hasn't decided whether he will play in next week's tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. "But there's a few swings that hurt." – Associated Press
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tim Clark won't be at 100 percent when he defends his PLAYERS title this week. But he will be on the course, which is not something he would have expected a few weeks ago.
Clark has been battling tendinitis in his right elbow, which has sidelined him for most of the 2011 season. In fact, he has made just one start in four months -- at the Masters last month -- but feels good enough to give it a go this week at TPC Sawgrass.
"At this point with the injuries I've had this year, I'm just really excited to be here," Clark said Wednesday. "I feel like I'm going to be able to play, which two weeks ago I wasn't sure if that would be the case."
Clark played in the first two tournaments of the year in Hawaii, including the 36-hole final day at the Sony Open in Hawaii when he finished tied for second. But the following Tuesday, he experienced a "killing" pain in his right arm after he woke up. He thinks now the injury had been building for some time, with the 36-hole finish at Waialae pushing it over the edge.
He's been receiving treatment, including soft tissue work and accupuncture, and also resting it as much as possible. Since his missed cut at Augusta National, he did not pick up a club until a few days ago.
"For a long time it just seemed like it was never going to end," Clark said of his injury. "So the improvement I've felt over the last few weeks has given me some encouragement and I'm feeling a bit more upbeat about it.
"I'm still probably 70, 80 percent. There's still a little bit of a niggle in the elbow. I do feel like I'm going to be able to play, though, and get through it."
The silver lining in all this, Clark said, was the fact that he's been able to spend more time at home. He and wife Candace had a child five weeks ago.
"I've been able to spend some time at home with the newborn and my wife, so that's certainly been nice," he said. "But yeah, it's really frustrating not to be able to come out to tournaments and play."
The South African flag has flown over the Circle of Champions at TPC Sawgrass for the past 358 days -- commemorating Tim Clark's come-from-behind victory at THE PLAYERS.
But the flag was replaced Sunday morning by the red-and-yellow striped Spanish flag in Clark’s gesture of respect for the late Seve Ballesteros. The World Golf Hall of Famer died Saturday after a three-year battle with brain cancer.
The Spanish flag will fly there until next Sunday when it will be replaced by the South African flag until a new PLAYERS champion is crowned. In addition, the PGA TOUR and PLAYERS flags will remain at half-mast until next Sunday.
Down in St. Augustine, the Spanish flag in front of the World Golf Hall of Fame has been lowered to half-mast. A large framed photo of Ballesteros has been placed in the box office and there is a black ribbon on his locker door. There will be a special tribute to the Spaniard during Monday night’s induction ceremony, as well.
There's been one silver lining to an otherwise cloudy season for Tim Clark.
That was the birth of his first child, a son named Jack, on April 1. Three days later, the South African found himself at Augusta National where he competed for the first time since January when he tied for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Clark, who is battling a severe case of tendinitis in his right elbow, wasn't even sure he would be able to play in the Masters until he warmed up on Thursday. He shot two more-than-respectable rounds of 73 to miss the cut and then returned home to his family in Scottsdale with more uncertainty in his life.
Clark is scheduled to defend his first title in three weeks at the PGA TOUR's signature event, THE PLAYERS Championship. But similar to the situation he faced at Augusta National, Clark doesn't know if he'll be able compete.
"It's just been a slow process, and I'm hoping that I'm able to tee it up the at THE PLAYERS Championship," Clark said during a teleconference on Tuesday. "Right now, I'm still pretty unsure as to how it's going to be by then. But obviously I will be going out there regardless, to play or not, I'll be there in Sawgrass for the week. … I just hope I'll be able to play."
Clark is also dealing with neck pain that likely is related to the tendinitis in his elbow. He worked with his trainers on both problems, and Clark wondered if playing through the pain at the Masters might break the "bad cycle" he was in.
"After Thursday, I really didn't think I was going to be able to play Friday, but got out there and you know, an hour and a half before the round, we got the arm moving and felt like I was kind of okay to play," Clark said. "But that was more of a case of me being stubborn and not really wanting to withdraw, is what I think happened there.
"Certainly I was encouraged by the fact that I could finish two rounds, even though I was still in quite a bit of pain. And certainly encouraged that I didn't shoot a couple of 80s and I was able to play quite well."
Clark expects to have a similar mindset at THE PLAYERS. He shot 67-67 on the weekend at TPC Sawgrass a year ago and didn't make a bogey over his final 26 holes to surge past Lee Westwood and Robert Allenby to win for the first time on TOUR.
"Obviously it was a huge step for my career,: Clark said. "I guess really more of a validation for the hard work I've put in and the years spent out there. The fact that it came at THE PLAYERS Championship and on such a great golf course is obviously very satisfying.” – Helen Ross
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
Sounds like the most incongruous of golf pairings, but it wasn’t far from coming to fruition Sunday at Augusta – the Green Jacket and the long putter.
Adam Scott fell a little short of capturing his first major at Augusta National, but if he had it would have also
Tim Clark used one to win THE PLAYERS Championship last year and finished second with one in the 2006 Masters. Nick O’Hern and Scott McCarron also use long putters. Belly putters are even more prevalent, as we saw last month with Martin Laird and Spencer Levin using them while battling for the Arnold Palmer Invitational title.
When Jack Nicklaus won his signature sixth Green Jacket with an oversized-head Response ZT putter, the public bought thousands in the days afterward. Might the same thing have happened if Scott had won with his 49-inch Scotty Cameron Studio Select Kombi? Who knows.
But don’t expect to see Scott with anything else anytime soon. He put one in the bag earlier this year at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and it has more than earned its place.
“After I saw some putts going in, it wasn't really hard to change,” Scott said. “The rhythm with the long putter is very nice, and that's something I was fighting in my putting with the short putter. So I started practicing with it, and the more I practiced with it, the better it felt and the more putts I made and eventually it was a pretty easy decision that I should give it a run.”
Scott tied for third at the Masters and had 111 putts over four days, which tied him for third in the field behind Luke Donald and the winner, Charl Schwartzel.
MORE BELLY TALK: World No. 2 Lee Westwood couldn’t hide his disgust with his work on the greens at Augusta and went to a belly putter for the final round. The 2010 runner-up finished tied for 11th, shooting 74-70 for the weekend after a Friday 67 moved him into contention.
“To come so close last year and get myself in good shape this year and then, on the greens, it just makes me feel like pulling my hair out,” Westwood said. “I felt a little more comfortable (Sunday) with the belly putter. At least I made one 15-footer.”
Westwood added that he “didn’t see any future in the short (putter) for a while.”
ANOTHER TIGER PUTTER?: OK, maybe not yet. But this photo from his trip to China this week is amusing. Look closely and you’ll see Woods practicing a long-putter stroke with a standard-length putter.