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April 9, 2009
BILLY MORRIS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to have Tim Clark with us. Tim, as you see from the scoreboard, is 4-under par, had a really fine 68 today, and is currently the leader in the clubhouse.
Tim has had a wonderful career. First, he's played in eight Masters Tournaments. His best finish here was in 2006 when he finished second by himself, and he enjoyed a good year in 2008, highlighted by three PGA TOUR Top-10s, including tied for second at the Colonial.
We are delighted to have you with us, and nice round today. Would you like to make a statement or just go to questions, Tim?
TIM CLARK: Just go to questions, I guess. There's not much to say. (Laughter).
Q. Can you talk about the way the course was set up today? It looked like a lot of forward tees and pins in different places, and the way it sounded out there compared to some recent Masters is this?
TIM CLARK: Yeah, I think it was a bonus for me to go out early. The course set up really good, for myself, anyway, the greens being somewhat receptive today; obviously they will get firmer as the week goes on, but the greens as they were, I could fire at some flags.
It certainly didn't play to its full length, and that kind of helped, too. It did not allow me to go for any par 5s, but my wedges have been feeling pretty good lately, and I was able to make four birdies on the par 5S, which is key.
With the course playing short and the greens being soft, I was pretty much able to keep it on every green. Years gone by, I've had a hard time stopping it from going over the back of the green. Today, I felt like it was a lot easier to score.
Q. Did it sound a little more like the Masters, the roars?
TIM CLARK: Not this morning; there weren't too many people out that early, (laughter) but I certainly heard them from the groups behind us.
Q. Success here, is there something about the course that fits your eye or something about the course that makes you feel comfortable out here?
TIM CLARK: The course is very difficult normally, and I feel like I'm always going to come here and have a hard time and struggle. But I think the thing I do best here is I try and come and enjoy the Tournament and have fun and enjoy the fact that I'm at the Masters, a place I've dreamt of coming as a youngster and watched on TV for so many years.
You can either go one way, come and stress about what you're going to do or just come and enjoy it. It really allowed me to stay relaxed out there, and I was not worried about what I was shooting. Just taking it one shot at a time and smelling the roses, as they say.
Q. What do they give you for winning the Par-3 Contest?
TIM CLARK: I guess it gives you know chance of winning the Tournament. (Laughter).
No, I get a lovely crystal vase, and any keepsakes we get from Augusta are cherished in the home, so that was nice.
Q. After 2006, do you have a feeling that you won't be at peace until you've kind of cracked that and won it?
TIM CLARK: No, I don't think about that much. This is an extremely demanding Tournament, and I've been here on Saturday and Sunday in the final groups, and it's a tough experience.
I know what it takes to win this tournament, and you certainly cannot come here with that in mind starting out. You just really have to take it one day at a time. If that happens one day, great. But like I say, I'm just really trying to enjoy it.
Q. Given the conditions, do you think you are going to see lots of red on the board today?
TIM CLARK: Today, certainly. I wouldn't think 4-under would hold up to be honest but I don't know how much it's firming up out there or what's going to happen.
It certainly was a great experience out there today, having the course play somewhat similar to what it did probably eight, ten years ago, yeah.
Q. And you did not go for any of the par 5s?
TIM CLARK: No.
Q. You talked about your wedges today, obviously they were on yesterday. Has there been anything you've changed recently, technique, equipment, that you've focused on more?
TIM CLARK: No, that's just my game really, if you've watched me. I just wish we would play a few PGA TOUR events on par-3 courses, because I would have a chance. (Laughter).
Obviously, yeah, I feel like if I can get to within 160, 170 yards, I can play with anyone really. So, you know, obviously with the course playing a little bit shorter today, that helped me out a lot.
Q. You mentioned that you had been in contention here, and also you think you know what it takes to win here. Could you fill us in on that, what it's like to be in contention here and what it takes to win?
TIM CLARK: It's probably the most demanding experience you can have on the golf course. Particularly the year I played, I teed off at 3:00 or 3:30 on Saturday, in the final group. The wind was blowing 20, it was 40 degrees and the greens were as hard as a rock. So I did well to shoot 79 that day.
I think that was a couple of years ago, when I led after two rounds. Yeah, it's just extremely difficult. It's one of those things, it's almost easier to win this tournament sort of coming from behind and sort of sneaking up there on Sunday. And now, I think if the course plays like it does today, that's probably going to happen on Sunday. Someone is going to be able to come out and shoot one of those great rounds that we are used to seeing.
Q. You said that you did not go for the par 5s; is that correct?
TIM CLARK: Yes.
Q. And yet you birdied all four of them. What do you attribute that to?
TIM CLARK: Again, obviously my wedge play. I laid up to yardages where I felt comfortable, and I think on every par 5, I was probably within eight or ten feet on each one of those.
And I could certainly get to 13 today. I only had 206 yards to the front, but miss it left-to-right there, you don't have a chance at birdie. I felt like, you know, with my wedges being as good as they have been, just to lay it up to 70 yards and take my chances.
Q. Do you suspect that you will play that way all week? Zach did, and he won it that way.
TIM CLARK: I think so. And I've obviously heard all of you guys talk about how they laid up on the par 5s, so, yeah, that's sort of going to be my game plan.
Q. On those lay-ups to get up to them, what did you hit off the tee, and what was your second shot?
TIM CLARK: I'm still hitting driver off the tee. But then you just see what your yardage is, and a couple of times, I hit 6-iron to lay-up. The other ones,2, I hit a 4-iron down there. So really, I'm just trying to get it to the yardage that I feel comfortable with.
Q. What's your comfort yardage with a wedge?
TIM CLARK: Here it changes because it all depends where the flag is. Some flags you need a fuller shot to generate some spin, and others you want to be closer to not have so much spin. So it changes on every par 5.
Q. Can you talk about growing up and dreaming of coming here? What is the first Masters you remember watching in South Africa?
TIM CLARK: The one that really stands out would be Jack in '86. I know I watched some before then, but that was certainly the one that sticks out.
Yeah, it would have been two o'clock in the morning or so, we would stay up and watch. Luckily my parents let me do that.
Q. Did you win the Public Links? So you played here back in the day when you were in college at NC State?
TIM CLARK: Yes.
Q. What was that first experience like for you walking through the clubhouse?
TIM CLARK: It's still my golfing highlight, coming here as amateur. It's a great experience to be able to do that. It's quite a nerve-wracking experience and it's just a great honor. At the time you're seeing all of your heroes playing in the tournament and you get to meet them. The guys are always very friendly towards the Amateurs and give you advice it. Was a great experience.
Q. Did you do the Crow's Nest and the whole deal?
TIM CLARK: I stayed in the Crow's Nest. Yeah, it's a week I'll never forget.
Q. I guess you putted fairly well today. How long have you been with the long putter, and what was the motivation for going to that?
TIM CLARK: I started with that in college, so it's been 12 years or so. I just, at the time, was tinkering and got with that and felt comfortable, and I've never really switched.
Q. Was it a coach or another player or somebody that kind of put the idea in your head, or put the putter in your hand?
TIM CLARK: A little bit, and then Coach Sykes at NC State was able to get me a couple. And they looked sort of like an alien craft at the time.
I just worked with it really hard for a few months before I even took it out on the golf course.
Q. Was there any grief from your teammates about using that?
TIM CLARK: No, I just said I had a bad back. (Laughter).
Q. What did more for your confidence, winning in December in Australia, or beating Tiger Woods?
TIM CLARK: Well, my confidence was shattered the next day after beating Tiger by getting beaten. That was a big experience, playing Tiger. Obviously playing against him, I was -- I felt like I was under a lot more pressure playing Tiger than I was when I won the Australian Open. I shot a low round on Sunday and came from way behind to win.
Playing Tiger, you know you are under the microscope, and you know that even the day before going out there. Again, I went with the attitude of try and enjoy it. If you're out there thinking too much about that, you are going to get beaten up.
Again, I felt really relaxed the day I played Tiger and was able to play some good golf.
Q. Just wanted to get your thoughts on Gary Player, last time around the track here this year and what he meant and how big he is down there as a sports figure in your country.
TIM CLARK: Obviously Gary is a pioneer for golf in South Africa, and certainly been a staple of this event for so many years, along with Arnold and Jack.
I guess eventually, it's got to come to an end, and I'm sure he's going to get a great reception here this week. Hopefully he keeps coming back every year, and at least playing the Par-3, it's great to have those guys here. I think that's one of the wonderful and unique things about this Tournament is that your past champions are around the club during the event.
Especially for guys like the amateurs and the younger pros who have not seen those guys, it's a great thrill to be out here with them.
Q. You had a series of injuries for quite a while and you seem to be 100% healthy now; is it almost liberating?
TIM CLARK: It's been a few years I've felt pretty good now. I guess I don't know what it feels like to play healthy.
Yeah, it's been good, and I wish my results were obviously a little better over the last few years, because I feel like I'm healthy enough to have done better, but I know that's how it goes.
Q. Could we go over your card, please?
BILLY MORRIS: Birdies and bogeys on your card.
TIM CLARK: I mean, I birdied all the par 5s, like I say, I laid up to yardages that I felt good with on those holes. Like I say, each one of them was within probably eight feet.
3, again, I hit a driver, I had 80 yards and I hit it to two feet there.
4, just a tough hole today. I hit a five that was not enough club and came up short in the bunker and a tough up-and-down.
3-putted the other par 3. 3-putted 6. Hit an okay shot below the hole and managed to 3-putt.
Here,8, I wedged it up to three feet again on 8.
9, I hit a great shot on 9. It was really close to the hole at one stage and got hung up in the bank. I thought if that starts rolling back, I'll be close to the hole there.
11 I made a great putt from the right edge of the green, just off the green there. That would have been at least 30-odd feet straight down the hill. I picked 1-up there.
12, I hit a 7-iron to no more than four feet and missed the putt there.
13, wedged it up about six, seven feet.
14, I hit a great shot on 14. Just got hung up in the back fringe again. I felt like if that ball started to roll back a millimeter, I would have been right by the hole there.
15, I missed an eight-, 10-footer there.
16, I missed a 10- or 12-footer for birdie there.
17, 18, I'm just trying to make pars. I know how tough those holes are. I'm happy to walk away there with pars.
Q. The putt on 18, did that feel pretty good?
TIM CLARK: Yeah, again I was just trying to get it close, and it's so much quicker down that hill than you expect. Again, that's the kind of putt you can build a lot of confidence, and again, I just tried to stay calm and finish the round.
BILLY MORRIS: Tim, thank you very much and good luck to you the rest of this week.
End of FastScripts