Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Tim Clark Defends The Wimpiest Move of All Time
You play to win or you play not to lose. Those are the two options you've got as an athlete. (As an Arizona Wildcat fan during the Lute Olson era, trust me, I know what it's like rooting for a team that is playing not to lose.)
On Monday at the Bob Hope Classic, Tim Clark, who has painted himself with the choker brush a few too many times, was sitting in the fairway of a par-5 that, and trust me on this, is a green light special. I've played the Nicklaus course at PGA West. I've played it from the backs. You hit a driver on that hole (the 18th this week for the Hope) and you go for it in two. It isn't that tough of a golf hole if you find the fairway.
Clark, who doesn't exactly fire the golf ball off his driver head (269.2 average this week), found the fairway like he normally does, but decided to lay up. Here is his explanation.
There’s a chance I could have gotten there, but great shot still would have left me probably over the ridge with a tough 30-footer down the slope.
My wedge game is my strength, so I knew laying it up, I hopefully wouldn’t have more than 10 feet. And I left myself a perfect 7 to 8-footer, not much to it.
So at the end of the day, I think I did what I needed to, to give myself a best look an at birdie there. I certainly didn’t want to throw away the tournament. If I hit my 3-wood there, it’s probably going to come up short in the water. A great shot is probably going to either leave me a long 2-putt or a chip from the back of the green, which I didn’t want either.
So I tried to play it the way I played the whole round and the whole week. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and try and do anything silly.
Now fellow golf fan, riddle me this ... the best wedge player in the world hits 20 shots from 90 yards and 20 putts from 30-feet ... which ones end up closer? The putts, of course. He's a professional golfer and 30-feet isn't even that much land to cover.
And, on top of all this, he wasn't even leading the tournament! He was tied for the lead, with a guy in the fairway behind him with plenty of stick to get home in two, and another guy behind him that was leading the field in driving distance, and needed an eagle to join the group at 29-under, where Clark sat.
The Bob Hope isn't some grind-it-out type event. It is birdies, birdies and more birdies. No matter the situation, you need to be thinking green light, pedal down hard, and go. Clark forgot this, and after wedging it up to eight feet, he missed a putt eerily similar to one he had to win the Colonial in '09.
Clark's decision was one that, at some events might have been sound. At the Hope, it was the wrong call, and it cost him, yet again, a chance at a trophy. Tim is three tournaments away from his 200th PGA Tour event without a win, and unless he figures out a way to close, I don't see him coming down the stretch and pulling one out anytime soon.
Stephen Dunn, Getty