Tim Clark credits the Gary Player Invitational, presented by Coca-Cola, for being the start of his professional success. So it was only right that in his first appearance in a South African tournament in two years, Clark should lead his team to glory in this charity tournament.
At the end of an event which raised a record of just over R4 million for charity this year, Clark and his team of Scottish football legend Kenny Dalglish and businessmen Alex Maditsi and Doug Jackson celebrated a seven-point victory at Zimbali Country Club on Sunday.
And they did so in style, with Jackson holing a putt from off the green on the last for a birdie at the end of a final round that produced a few moments of brilliance from the amateurs in the field.
ÂI remember being invited to this tournament for the first time in 2000. I was just a rookie professional then, and to have had Gary Player even think of inviting me was a big deal. It meant a lot to me. I always feel like that was the start of my career,Â said Clark, whose team finished on a 36-hole total of 175 points.
Second place went to the team of Ladies European Tour professional Carly Booth, Irish pop star Brian McFadden and businessmen Greg Whittaker and Steve Phytides on a total of 168 points.
The final day brought with it tough conditions as a strong wind challenged the field of professionals, celebrities and businessmen. But it couldnÂt hamper a few individual highlights.
McFadden was thrilled to sign off his debut in this tournament with a second place. ÂI had the time of my life and I canÂt wait for next year,Â said the former Westlife star. ÂBut I realized this week IÂm not a professional athlete. I think IÂve got more of a physique for pro darts.Â
Phytides, who took time away from his successful logistics business to help contribute to the charitable cause this week, was one of the standout performers in his team. ÂIt was a privilege to be part of this, and I have to thank Mr Player for giving me that opportunity. ItÂs been the highlight of my own golfing career.Â
The team of double senior Major champion Roger Chapman, South African cricket legend Shaun Pollock and businessmen Chuck Colton and Joe Ralebepa struggled to hold onto their second place overnight and finished third overall on 165 points.
ÂWe wanted to do our best to chase down the leaders, but we didnÂt make too many big points on the final day. But it was still great fun to be a part of such a good cause,Â said Pollock, who was on the winning team here last year.
Tournament host Gary Player and his team of actor Jack Wagner and businessmen Carlos Pires Oliveira Dias and Andre Pires Oliveira Dias finished on 163 points. ÂThe last two holes really hurt us,Â said the ever-competitive Player. It was echoed by Wagner, a scratch handicap who as a teenager could choose between a golf and drama scholarship and opted for the latter. ÂI think we all had our moments of brilliance and then our moments of sitting in the cart and keeping quiet.Â
They were followed by Ian Woosnam, actress Angie Everhart, Christian Karg and Brad Caufield on 159 points. Karg produced a magnificent shot on the par-four 18th, hitting his five-iron approach to within one foot and holing the putt for birdie. ÂThat was a good four pointer for me, and it was exactly what we needed to get past Team Torrance, which was our goal at the beginning of the day,Â he said.
Sam Torrance, Ian Wright, Gideon du Plessis and Nick Jonsson took sixth place on 150 points, with Du Plessis loving every second of being in the presence of a former Ryder Cup captain for two days. ÂIt was such a memorable experience. Sam Torrance is a fantastic golfer, but an even better storyteller. But IÂm so honoured to have been part of this, and thank Gary for what heÂs done in this tournament, and for South Africa as a whole,Â he said.