Tim Clark won yesterday. But you probably did not know this because Tiger Woods lost!
The golfer from Durban, RSA played a terrific round on his way to winning 4 and 2 against His Highness Woods. Six birdies and no bogeys for Clark putting down Woods in 16 holes. It was the PGA equivilent of deicide. Yet, you probably did not know this because Tiger lost!
Certainly Tim Clark had to play the round of his career in order to top Mr. Roboto. And he did, kicking Tiger’s ass all over the course. It seemed like role reversal as Clark played more like Tiger and Tiger played more like some “no name” from South Africa. But you probably did not know this because Tiger lost!!!!
Just stop it! Look, I know that it is the media’s crush on Tiger that creates headlines and “breaking news” that Woods actually lost rather than the fact that Clark won the match. Writing for the AP, Doug Ferguson referred to Clark as “pesky.” Has Tiger ever been referred to as “pesky”? No, he is just “lurking”; after all he is a “Tiger.” Give Clark some love! And yes, it was mentioned that Clark played well and won. But from the tone of most of the reports, it was clear that Tiger lost more so than Clark won. Some on ESPN seemed to simply question if Tiger came back to early [from surgery] rather than give Clark credit!
Anyone who has ever watched golf would know that Clark outplayed Woods and won. On Wednesday, no once claimed that Brendan Jones lost to Woods. Had Woods beat Clark because the South African had eight bogeys, no one would have stated that Clark lost to Woods. It is plain and simple — Clark beat Woods. He played better than Woods. It had little to do with his surgery recovery. Keep in mind, everyone was raving over how awesome Tiger was on Wednesday when he exploded out of the gate. “He is better than ever.” There was even a headline that claimed a “rusty” Tiger was still dominate. So where was the dominance yesterday? It was still evident; Clark just played better.
This is not an anti-Tiger rant. I recognize that Tiger will end up the greatest golfer of all time and he is certainly the best golfer currently on the PGA Tour. This is towards the media ignorance of the fact that it was Clark who played better than Tiger; not that Tiger played worse than Clark. And while some stories did give Clark credit, many did not seem to do so. Even Tiger himself recognized that Clark played well and won the match. Here is Tiger’s quote:
That is the nature of match play. . . . You can play well and go home and you play poorly and advance. I just happened to catch Tim playing really well, and I didn’t make enough birdies to answer him. (Ferguson via Yahoo! Sports)
It is the media that has spun it. That is who I am upset with; not Tiger Woods.
What is amusing is that people on Around the Horn and like shows claimed that the Match Play format favored Woods’ return because he could play fewer holes per day than a normal tournament, assuming he put away his opponent. And it was all but assumed that Tiger would at least make the weekend. But they also seemed to forget that Match Play also lends itself towards upsets. One great round by your opponent could spell the end for you. And that was the case here. When it is one round versus one round, Clark’s chances of winning were great. Had this been a four-day tournament, maybe Clark puts up one or even two strong rounds, but it is highly unlikely that he outplays a golfer like Woods, Harrington, Mickelson, or even Anthony Kim. It was not a normal tournament but one that actually benefited Clark and he took full advantage of his moment in the spotlight.
We all know what is going to happen. Clark beating Tiger is only going to make Woods more determined; more focused; more dominant than before. That is Woods’ nature when it comes to the game of golf. By the time that the Masters rolls around, I doubt that Tiger will be hitting cart paths. By the time He is at Augusta, he will be hitting greens and players like Clark will be a specter. And in the end, he will likely be putting on another ugly green jacket after dominating the course. But just for one day, Tim Clark dominated Tiger Woods. Get it right.