Worth the wait for Clark
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2008 Australian Masters | Round One | 27 Nov 2008
It was a long wait and a long day for all as the first day of the Sportsbet Masters dragged on into the evening. A pending thunderstorm at 4.10 pm sent the players scurrying from the course and it was just as well as within 15 minutes the rain came in sheets and was accompanied by hail.
Play did not get underway again until 7.00pm but that left only 90 minutes or so for the remaining players still to finish their opening round. It was an impossible task and so tomorrow 39 players will line up at 7.00am to complete their first rounds.
The player who benefited most from the delay appeared to be South African Tim Clark who had four holes to play when he returned to the course. He took immediate advantage of the easier conditions that prevailed after the storm with the strong breezes of earlier in the day all but gone and the greens softened by the rain. He birdied the 15th and 16th to move to 5 under and joined the morning leader, Scott Hend, in the lead.
“It’s good to have been able to get the round finished as there are some that will not make it tonight,” said Clark who is playing here for the first time. “I haven’t been here previously as it has clashed with the events at home but I am pleased to be able to play this week.”
Clark has New Zealand caddie Anthony Knight on the bag.
“Obviously he worked for Aaron when he won last year so maybe some of that might rub off,” he joked.
Clark has yet to claim a title on the PGA Tour in the US but has been a prolific winner in his homeland and has won the Barclays Scottish Open. He is one of the higher ranked players in the field and it would surprise, given his good start, if he was not in the mix until late in the tournament.
He shares the lead with Hend and the pair has a two shot break over Australians Anthony Brown, Michael Wright and Chris Downes and Englishman Daniel Wardrop. Downes has five holes to play and has the opportunity when play resumes tomorrow to improve further on that and perhaps even challenge for the lead.
Pre-tournament favourite Robert Allenby made a shaky start with a round of one over par and is in a share of 49th position, the cut tomorrow appearing likely to fall around the 2 or 3 over mark.
Stuart Appleby finished with two over 74 while the event’s drawcard John Daly finished with 74 and will likely need a round of 71 at worst tomorrow.