Clark cruising under Masters radar

Of the eight South Africans in The Masters field this year Tim Clark has had the quietest build up, but that means he’ll be able to play without the pressure of expectation and could surprise.

His 2009 Players Championship victory earned him a spot at this year’s first major, and with five cuts made in eight starts on the PGA Tour this year, he’s consistent enough to make it to the weekend. From there it’s anyone’s show at Augusta.

The season has gone well for Clark so far, and he began the 2013 European Tour season by making a playoff at the rain-hampered Nelson Mandela Championship. The tournament had to be cut to two rounds, during which Clark shot 60 and 64 on the shortened Royal Durban layout.

The 37-year-old left Durban for a stint on the PGA Tour and immediately took control, reaching 21-under-par at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Clark shot 64, 66, 66, 63 that week and gave every indication that he was ready to win again on the PGA Tour.

While he has made four further cuts in America, the results have not been beacons of hope for Clark, but it seems that he shines when the going gets tough. That showed at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, where he beat Adam Scott and then Thorbjorn Olesen to reach a share of ninth. He would succumb to the indomitableIan Poulter during the third round, but made it clear that pressure produces his best performances.

The Masters, with its huge crowds and hyped atmosphere, will certainly get the juices flowing for Clark, as it does for every golfer to from the moment they cruise down Magnolia Lane.

Experience is crucial at Augusta National, and the 37-year-old has no shortage of that, either. This year will be his 11th trip to The Masters, and he’s strung together four top-15 finishes during his five cuts made in those years.

Most notable of his results is a second-place finish in 2006, where the Arizona resident shot a final-round 69 to finish runner-up to Phil Mickelson.

Clark has all of the prerequisites for Masters success, and he’s done everything but win it over the last 11 years. While the rest of the world turns its attention to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, Clark will be in the background as always, quietly piecing together the rounds that could just turn into a winning result.

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