POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 01:45 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2011
After playing 130 strokes over close to 9 hours, Tim Clark took his bag — and a bit of hope — to the practice range for a few more swings.
It would be about another hour before his chances of further extending a grueling day at Waialae Country Club were effectively extinguished.
Clark began the morning well behind the leaders, and his spirited charge on the final day of the Sony Open in Hawaii came up just short, closing the 36-hole finale two strokes behind champion Mark Wilson.
With the tournament truncated to three days due to last week's heavy rains, Clark shot a 4-under-par 66 in his first tour around Waialae yesterday. He started the afternoon round on the back nine and put considerable pressure on Wilson with a final-round 64, matching the low round of the tournament.
But Wilson was able to hang on and avoid a playoff, leaving Clark to settle for the ninth runner-up finish of his career, tied with Steve Marino at 14-under 266.
"I was coming from behind and always had a lot of work to do to win the tournament," said Clark, who earned his first PGA Tour victory at The Players Championship last May. "Mark always had it in his control, and he was able to finish it off.
"It doesn't sting that much unless you've really done something bad to lose the tournament. I'm happy about the week, particularly how I played. I didn't feel like I played my best golf ... so I'm really excited about what I can do in the next few weeks if I can improve on the things I feel that I need to."
Once the tournament opened on Friday, Clark lingered in the pack with two rounds of 68 and checked in for yesterday's 7:20 a.m. tee time at 4 under, six strokes behind co-leaders Shigeki Maruyama and Stuart Appleby.
He still didn't appear to be much of a threat after his bogey-free morning round moved him up to a tie for eighth.
Although Clark said Waialae's front nine had been tough on him early in the weekend — playing those holes at 1 under through three rounds — he tore through his final stretch at 4 under to vault into contention.
With Wilson holding steady atop the leaderboard — but not exactly pulling away — Clark made a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 6, and planted his first shot on the par-3 seventh 2 inches from the hole and moved to 13 under.
He gave himself another birdie try on No. 8, but pulled his putt just enough to have the ball burn the left edge. Even so, Clark had another chance to catch Wilson when he stood over an eagle putt from inside 16 feet on the ninth green, his final hole of the day.
Clark slapped his leg as his putt stopped short of the hole, leaving him with birdie and one stroke behind Wilson.
After a couple of quick interviews, he kept loose on the range while Wilson came down the last three holes. Clark's playoff chances faded when Wilson dropped an 11-foot putt to save par on No. 17 with only the par-5 18th left.
"Once he's got a one-shot lead going into 18, it's a pretty easy hole to par, so you figure that's it," Clark said.
Although he'd developed a blister on Saturday, Clark said grinding through 36 holes wasn't all that bad, especially since he'd played 34 last month on the final day of the South African Open.
"Today was going to be a tough day, 36 holes, if you could get out and play somewhat consistent you could move up the leaderboard," Clark said.
"It was all just steady golf and in the end had a chance."