By Michael Vlismas
Tim Clark will make his fifth appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club from 4-7 December, and at the end of a year where he has been arguably South Africa’s top performer on the international stage.
With his victory in the RBC Canadian Open, the understated Clark is the only South African to have won on the PGA Tour this year, and has been one of the shining lights in a largely quiet 2014 for South Africa’s leading professionals.
Clark also recently lost a playoff to Masters champion Bubba Watson for the World Golf Championships HSBC Champions in China.
Those have been the standout performances in a year which Clark admits he didn’t have high expectations for following a difficult 2013 where he struggled with an elbow injury.
“To have won means a lot. I hadn’t had the greatest of years starting from January. I played good in the fall last year, but this year as a calendar year wasn’t the best for me, to start with. To turn it around like I have means a lot,” said Clark.
The Umkomaas professional is currently the third South African to confirm his place in the Nedbank Golf Challenge field, joining Charl Schwartzel and Dawie van der Walt.
And Clark returns to Sun City with a rapidly improving record in “Africa’s Major”. He has finished 12th, sixth, third and second in his previous four appearances in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
His last appearance was in 2010 when he finished runner-up to Lee Westwood, who won by eight shots that year. That was also the year Clark made his breakthrough on the PGA Tour with his first victory there, in the Players Championship.
And the South African admits he will return to the Nedbank Golf Challenge a different player in many respects to the one South Africans last saw in 2010.
“A lot has happened since then. I’ve had surgery, and on the good side I’ve had two kids. My life has changed a lot.”
Clark heads back to Sun City seeking his first victory on African soil since winning the 2002 South African Open, and the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit that year.
With the European Tour’s Race to Dubai now complete, the remainder of the Nedbank Golf Challenge field will be confirmed this week.