WATCH ABOVE: Tim Clark’s stunning back nine was the story Sunday. Derek Meyers and golf analyst Robert Thompson look back on the final round and the whole tournament.
Ile Bizard, Que.—Few people gave Tim Clark a chance during the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal and after the opening of Sunday’s rain-soaked round, you could add Clark’s name to the list of doubters.
“It was a little shaky,” said Clark, a diminutive South African. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence there at the start.”
He bogeyed the first hole, and went quietly for the remainder of the front nine. But leader Jim Furyk, a two-time Canadian Open winner, was playing indifferent golf as well. The pair made the turn where they started—three shots apart.
Then the situation started to change. As storm clouds rolled in—the start of the final round was moved up to try to avoid thunderstorms that were scheduled to hit Montreal mid-afternoon—Clark made a move. He birdied four of the first six holes on the back nine and by the time golfers were called in because of a passing storm, Clark was leading the tournament.
He held that lead until the final hole, where he left himself a long putt while Furyk’s approach stopped 12-feet from the flag. When Furyk’s birdie putt slid by, and Clark quietly made his par, Clark was the Canadian Open winner.
Clark isn’t your prototypical PGA Tour pro. He was born with a birth defect that keeps him from rotating his forearms properly, making it difficult for him to chip the ball around the greens. He’s also a short hitter in an era of bombers—he was 70th in driving distance of the golfers in the field, a full 40 yards behind the longest player in the field, Canadian amateur Taylor Pendrith.
WATCH: Tim Clark accepts the trophy as the 2014 RBC Canadian Open champion
But he led the field in driving accuracy, and used his precision to great impact.
“Any national open championship to me is special, particularly to those people for their country,” Clark said after his round. “I know what it means to the Canadian players to play up here and like I say, it’s an honour for me to be the open champion.”
Clark’s win is a huge disappointment for American Furyk who tied the course record on Friday and played flawless golf through three rounds. One of the game’s biggest stars—with $59-million in career earnings and 16 wins—Furyk hasn’t had a victory since 2010. Since that point he’s is 0-for-7 when he’s held the 54-hole lead.
Furyk had a shot at tying for the lead, but his birdie putt on 18 didn’t even graze the putt, a problem he faced throughout the final round.
Furyk said it wasn’t too early to process his latest shortfall.
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“The disappointment is just coming out,” he said. “It was a positive week, but at this time it doesn’t feel like it. But I’ll take something out of it eventually.”
Furyk’s situation is difficult to fathom. He remains one of the best golfers in the game—a winner of the Canadian Open at both Hamilton Golf and Country Club and Angus Glen Golf Club—and has made more than $4-million this year. But for some reason he can’t close the door on tournaments.
In this instance, Furyk didn’t cough up the tournament as much as get beaten by Clark, something he recognizes.
“I have to take my hat off to him,” Furyk says. “He shot 30 on the back nine for a 65, so I’m definitely not going to take anything away from him. It was a heck of a round.”
For Clark the win is a comeback for the golfer who played on three Presidents Cup teams representing the International team as one of the best in the world. But the 39-year old golfer tore a tendon in his elbow that resulted in surgery in taking much of 2011 off. He’s had additional elbow issues this year.
The golfer’s successes as a professional started in Canada at the 1998 New Brunswick Open, he said his latest win was a bookend for his career.
“The irony of it is this could be the place of my first win and my last win,” he joked. “To come back here … I have fond memories.”
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