April 7 2011
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
AUGUSTA, GA. -- The good news? Tim Clark was able to finish Thursday's first round of the Masters, shooting a more-than-respectable 73.
The bad news? The pain from the tendinitis in his right elbow is so intense, Clark isn't sure he'll be able to tee it up on Friday at Augusta National -- and his title defense at THE PLAYERS Championship next month may be in jeopardy, too.
"I ended up, could have had a good score, really," Clark said. "I four-putted from under the hole on 10. I feel like I could have shot under par, but I'm not sure if I can play tomorrow.
"It's pretty bad. I'll go and get some treatment done in the morning, but it pretty much hurt all day and just got worse all day."
Clark, who is taking Celebrex to quell the inflammation, labeled his situation day-to-day. Encouraged by his performance in the first round, he plans to wait until Friday morning, when he tees off at 12:09 p.m. ET, to make a decision.
"The way I still managed to play, I felt like I might have had a chance," Clark said. "I've still got a chance here. But if it gets to a point where I can't swing, I just can't swing."
Clark hasn't played since he tied for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He warmed up as he normally would on Thursday, though, and got the round off to a rousing start when he hit a driver and a 5-iron to 4 feet for birdie.
"I was like, well, I should just stop now," Clark said, chuckling.
Clark ended the round with four birdies, three bogeys and the double bogey from 10 feet at No. 10. He said the pain was worst during his practice swings -- "once I'm in the shots, the actual tournament shots, you're not really thinking about it," Clark said.
But the South African, who says he has no strength in his shoulders and back due to inactivity, didn't want to pass up the chance to play at Augusta National. The 35-year-old finished second in the Masters in 2006 and has three other ties for 13th here in nine starts.
“I could have come out here and not broken 80 for sure, so I just think I'm kind of stubborn and just sort of fought through it," Clark said. "Again, just to be here at Augusta, it's just a dream to come and play this tournament. So when you're given the opportunity, it's tough to walk away from it. Really that was the underlying factor."
THE PLAYERS, which is five weeks away, has a similar pull. The PGA TOUR's signature event marked Clark's first win and would be his first title defense.
"So really I've got to focus in on getting better for that," he said. "I'm just not sure. I'm not sure."