Tim plays in US to prepare for Open

While almost all of the other South Africans playing in next week’s Open Championship are in Europe already, Tim Clark will be getting ready for his attempt at winning the Claret Jug by playing in the John Deere Classic in the United States.

He will be joined in the field by Garth Mulroy, who will also be heading over to Royal Lytham and St Annes, and by Rory Sabbatini, who won’t.

Clark gained US PGA Tour notoriety for being the man who had won the most prize-money in a career which did not include a victory.

He broke his duck in 2010, taking the Players Championship, and making the victory really count as it propelled him to the forefront of the thinking of many pundits when it came to analysing the chances of players at various major championships.

However, he’s battled with an elbow injury since then, and has only recently begun to show the kind of form which made him a contender.

This year, he has a best finish of a share of fourth in last month’s Travelers Championship, and two other top-25 finishes – at the Players and at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

So things are turning around for the two-time SA Open champion, and he goes into the John Deere Classic – where three-time champion Steve Stricker is heavily favoured to make it four wins in a row. Clark has never been out of the top 20 in the Illinois tournament, and lost there in a playoff in 2007. He also had a share of 18th in 2008 and a share of seventh in 2010.

It’s that kind of performance he will be looking for before he heads off to England for the Open – but even more, he will be looking for signs of his almost legendary accuracy as well as an ability to cope with adversity during a round.

And that would show he is ready for the Open.

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