Clark back after long layoff

2012-02-16 16:52

Johannesburg - South Africa's Tim Clark will make a return to the US PGA tour after nearly a year because of injury when the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, California begins on Thursday.

Clark last played a competitive round of golf at the Players Championship last May before a debilitating elbow injury forced him out of the tournament.

"I could tell it wasn’t any good. After that I went in for more MRIs and they told me, ‘it looks like it’s torn'," Clark told

"It was terrible, I couldn’t lift a club off the ground. At Augusta, I couldn’t pick a club up with my right hand.

"So it’s way better, but I know I need to make things stronger to come out here."

The 'Umkomaaster' was the defending champion at the event having won the title in 2010 for a first tour victory.

Clark had surgery in August and cannot set his sights much higher than being around for the weekend after the 36-hole cut.

"The arm itself feels okay for now," he said, alluding to the fact he is one of the shortest hitters on the highly competitive tour.

"Obviously, I don’t have much speed in the swing, and I’m trying to build that up now."

With his win at the 2010 Players Championship, Clark has an exemption on tour until the end of 2015, which will take some of the pressure off his return.

"It’s going to be quite tough to travel once again, but obviously you miss the guys, and you miss the competitive side of it," said Clark.

"That’s why we enjoy playing the game, for the competition and the challenge.

"Having been away from that for a year, you kind of forget what it’s all about and the most interesting thing will be where am I going to be mentally."

The 36-year-old's name appeared in the field next to other South Africans Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini.

Clark has been plagued by injury throughout his career and battled with a serious wrist injury in 2001 in his debut year, where he was able to get a major-medical extension on the PGA tour that season.

He has risen as high as the top-20 in the world rankings, but with his injury he has now plummeted to 129th.