Tim Clark: Remembering to be committed to his shots

Tim Clark finally had an opportunity to validate his 2010 Players Championship win with a come from behind, 1-shot victory over Jim Furyk in the RBC Canadian Open. He wouldn’t know it at the time, but his flat start on the front nine — a bogey on 1 and a birdie on 6 — woke him up:

“I realized that he wasn’t going to make any mistakes out there and I’m going to have to go make some birdies.”

And, boy, did he ever. He had five birdies on the back nine, eight one-putt greens and shot 30. Five birdies coming down the stretch is pretty good. 

Furyk didn’t play bad — he shot 69 — but that wasn’t enough when a chaser is on fire. Clark started three shots back, Furyk added another one to get to a 4-shot lead, and then Clark rose to the occasion and shoots 5-under to win by one. Furyk only made one birdie on the back.

Fortunately for Clark, he was able to realize mid-round that he was not fully committing to his shots.

“Every time I didn’t quite make up my mind, I didn’t hit the best of shots. Towards the end there, I knew what kind of situation I was in there and there was no point in backing off. So I got a little bit more committed and made better swings that way.”

The mind is easily partitioned because of all of the extraneous thoughts that come to us as we engage with the world. Normally, it’s harmless to be thinking about dinner while you’re trying to get a report written for work or work done around the house. And because of that, it’s easy to be distracted by thoughts in another partition that have nothing to do with the shot at hand. So it becomes necessary to train the mind to have an outsized partition for golf shots.

The best way to do that is to realize that it’s going on in the first place. Years ago as I was about to stroke a putt, I realized that my mind was engaged in the question of what my favorite hole on the course was, the measure of which would be where I would want my ashes spread. I pulled the trigger anyway and missed the putt.

Until now, this year wasn’t exactly a barn burner for Clark. Before this week, he entered 20 tournaments and missed 9 cuts. The $484,000 T2 at McGladrey masked an otherwise spotty year…until now.

Now he gets into the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron this coming week and the PGA Championship at Valhalla in Louisville the week after. He had already planned on entering Greensboro and with the four Playoff tournaments after that, he’s trying to figure out where he’s going to be able to get some rest.

It’s a problem I’m sure he’s enjoying.

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