2005: Clark cruises at loaded Loch Lomond

Luss, Scotland

Tim Clark proved his third-place finish at last month’s U.S. Open was no fluke. Funny how a tournament victory can validate a performance.

Clark won the Barclays Scottish Open July 10 at Loch Lomond, holding onto the lead throughout the final round and earning 592,388 euros (approximately $710,000). His 19-under-par total was enough for a two-shot victory, his third on the PGA European Tour.

Clark’s earlier victories came in the South African Open, in 2002 and again this year. It’s his home nation’s championship, but he said they take a back seat to the Scottish Open.

“It’s always great to win your home title, but in terms of the quality of the field this is a bigger win,” he said.

Clark had only one blemish on his card – a bogey at the par-3 11th – in a final round that started with 25 players within six shots of the lead.

Dutchman Maarten Lafeber and Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke shared second place two shots behind at 17 under. England’s Ian Poulter took fourth, another shot back.

In warm, humid conditions that were more like those of Clark’s native South Africa rather than Scotland, Clark was never out of the lead all day. After Lafeber missed a birdie putt to tie on the final hole, the South African ran in his own birdie effort to put the result beyond doubt.

Clark, 29, won twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2000, but has yet to win on the PGA Tour. His triumph in Scotland no doubt builds his confidence.

“This victory is going to mean a lot,” he said. “To know that I can play under the pressure and win is pleasing.”

Another who was pleased was Lafeber, who earned the final exempt spot into the British Open. The Dutchman, until now, had two main claims to fame. His 2003 Dutch Open victory, his only one on the European Tour, was the first by a Dutchman in 56 years. He also made headlines in 2002 for refusing to sign Miguel Angel Martin’s scorecard in the Portuguese Open. Lafeber accused Martin of improving his lie on a number of occasions.

There was pressure in Scotland on Lafeber because he was playing in the final group of a prestigious event, but with the exception of a bogey on No. 15, he did not bow. He shot a closing 69 and is on the way to St. Andrews.

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