2005: Clark leaves foes in the Durban dust

Durban, South Africa

Tim Clark has taken quite a liking to Durban Country Club. When the South African Open last was played at Durban in 2002, Clark won the event in his home country.

Clark, 29, entered the final round Jan. 23 in a four-way tie for first, but he shot 6-under-par 66, repeated his Durban magic and left runners-up Gregory Havret (69) and Charl Schwartzel (68) six strokes back.

“At no stage did I want to let up and make any mistakes,” Clark said. “I’m extremely pleased because I felt a lot of pressure to play well this week. I think a lot of people expected me to play well, but I hadn’t played much golf coming into the week. However, my game just felt like it was getting better and better, and today was the best.”

The importance of winning his country’s national open was not lost on Clark, but he did joke that he’d need to win the event at another venue to really prove himself to his countrymen.

“I think my next goal must be to win it somewhere else,” Clark said. “Seriously, though, I think it is one of South Africa’s great courses. It really does challenge the players.”

Clark’s final-round 66 was matched only by Nick Dougherty, who tied for third with Darren Clarke (67) and Graeme Storm (72). This was Clarke’s first tournament since winning the Taiheiyo Masters Nov. 14 in Japan. Clarke’s wife, Heather, is being treated for cancer.

South Africa’s Titch Moore, who led through the first two rounds, shot a final-round 74, his worst of the tournament. He had bogeys on Nos. 5 and 16 and a double bogey on No. 11.

Schwartzel, who won the Dunhill Championship last month, earned 65,273 euros to tie for second at Durban, moving the 20-year-old to the top of the PGA European Tour’s Order of Merit. Havret started strong Sunday with an outward 33, but began the back nine with consecutive bogeys.

“I played well, but there was too much catching up for me to do,” Havret said. “The only thing I was disappointed about was at the 10th and 11th. Those were big mistakes.”

Clark, meanwhile, was next to perfect – proving once again that Durban definitely is to his liking.

– Staff and wire reports

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