KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Early starter Tim Clark took advantage of playing by himself to charge up the leaderboard with a much improved putting display in the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Sunday.
Placed second-last overnight and a distant 10 strokes off the pace in the winners-only field of 34, the South African found himself teeing off without a playing partner when American Kevin Stadler withdrew from the event, citing a wrist injury.
Three-and-a-half hours later, Clark had rocketed midway up the leaderboard after mixing seven birdies with a lone bogey to fire a six-under-par 67 for a seven-under total of 212.
“I’ve hit the ball good all three days, I’ve just really struggled on the greens the first two days,” Clark, 39, told Reuters after sinking an 11-foot birdie putt at the par-five last on a hot, breezy day at the Kapalua Resort.
“Yesterday was particularly bad with a few three-putts. Today, I just had better feel. I felt better over the ball.”
Clark’s only blemish came with a bogey at the par-four 17th where he missed the green with his approach and three-putted from the fringe.
“Technically not a three-putt there as I was on the fringe and then I missed a shortish one (for par),” the twice PGA Tour champion said.
“Otherwise I feel like I have been hitting it good, so a round like that was there if I could just get the putter going.”
Clark, who booked his place in the elite field at Kapalua with his victory at last year’s Canadian Open, thoroughly enjoyed playing on his own, though he became increasingly fatigued on the Plantation Course’s hilly back nine.
“We went round the front (nine) in an hour-and-a-half and it took us two on the back,” he said with a grin. “We started to get a bit tired and you try to catch your breath on the greens, take your time reading them.
“It’s kind of nice playing on your own. If there is a situation where you want to take some time, you can because I was three or four holes ahead the whole time.”
Editing by Gene Cherry