Putter ruling won’t get in the way of Tim Clark’s drive to win

Posted Saturday, May. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Tim Clark wasn’t playing with any extra incentive after turning in a third round 65 Saturday in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He’s been playing with it for quite a while.

Respected by peers as a fierce competitor on the the course, Clark has been digging deep to face perhaps the biggest fundamental challenge of his professional career.

The USGA announced Tuesday that it plans to ban anchored putting in 2016, a technique Clark has used since he was a sophomore at North Carolina State.

“At this point, I’m trying to leave it behind me now,” Clark said. “It’s been tough enough playing this year with that on my mind, and I’ve probably let it get the better of me over a couple of weeks this season.”

His 2013 results reflect that. Of the 11 events he’s played, Clark has missed four cuts, despite two tops 10s that included a runner-up finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

He finished tied for 11th at the Masters and has earned more than $1 million already, good for 38th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Still, when a player such as Clark has made more than $20 million in his career, he said the original news that the USGA would review anchoring came initially as a shock to the system.

“At first when you do something for 15 years and your entire professional career, in your mind you figure you’re going to play out your career like this and there’s nothing to worry about,” Clark said. “And then they tell you this could be taken away, obviously you wonder what you’re going to do in that situation. I’ve never been one to back down, so I’m going to do what I need to do to play golf.”

Clark is one of a reported nine players that have retained legal counsel in weighing their rights in opposition of the USGA.

The PGA Tour has indicated it plans to review the ban and has mentioned the possibility of adding a local rule to override the USGA’s position.

Despite it all, Clark was performing well Saturday. He carded six birdies against one bogey and needed only 23 putts.

“There were lots of tricky, swirling winds out there,” he said. “I was able to hit a lot of fairways, but it wasn’t easy out there today. Obviously, when I got into trouble, I was able to splash it out and get it close, so that helps out the stats some.”

Clark said he’s uncertain about how he’ll approach the remaining part of his career if remedies can’t be found to allow for anchoring the putter. But he said he was optimistic.

“Will it be something new, something conventional, something [Matt] Kuchar-style, that’s something I’ll have to tackle when the decision is final.

“I think you’re going to see some really weird and wonderful things, though.”

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