Date: December 14, 2008
Author: Steve Orme at Royal Sydney

Clark heads home a winner

Australian Open winner South African Tim Clark will leave with the country&aposs national golf championship and a deep affection for a place he claims is more welcoming than the one he returns to. After claiming a dramatic victory over Mathew Goggin in a playoff neither golfer had contemplated, Clark spoke of his love for Australia and how local crowds had inspired him to play some of the best golf of his career. He will jet back to Cape Town on Monday to contest the South Africa Open, happy to support his local circuit but still irked about the lack of recognition and respect he receives in the republic. “I feel like I needed to play there – I want to play at least one event but in all honesty I felt more welcome here than I do when I go home,” Clark said. “I don&apost want it to sound like a knock on the South African tour but I&aposve really been made to feel very welcome here and have enjoyed my time.” “I can feel the appreciation of the people around that I&aposm here playing but I don&apost feel like that when I&aposm at home.” “I try not to worry about it too much and I have worried about it too much in the past.” “This year I just thought I&aposd go to Australia and play and I would like to come back and play again.” Clark finished the final round nine-under and, like Goggin, was preparing to salute New Zealander David Smail as the 2008 Australian Open winner. But the Kiwi committed golfing suicide on the back nine, throwing away a three stroke lead and forcing Goggin and Clark back into action. “I didn&apost even consider that there would be a playoff until 30 minutes after I&aposd finished (the fourth round),” he said. “I packed up the locker and spoke to my caddy and said see you in America in a few months.” “After leaving the locker-room I thought &aposit&aposs not easy out there I better just stick around&apos.” “I was watching the TV having a pie and chips believe it or not and saw Mat on the putting green warming up and thought I&aposd better get down there and start hitting some balls or something.” Clark saved par from the bunker on the playoff hole as Goggin lipped out to hand the South African the historic Stonehaven Cup. “Obviously it was just a bonus to get into the playoff and I feel bad for David too in a way for the way he finished,” Clark said “And then in the playoff (I&aposm) just shocked to have won it like that too.” “It&aposs a tough way to win like that but at the end of the day I am the winner.” “I&aposve had a great three weeks here before winning this tournament and this is just obviously a bonus for me and certainly does a lot for my world ranking and everything that comes with it.”