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."