Tim Clark wins the Canadian Open

07.27.14 clark final putt

Tim Clark was able to overcome a three-shot deficit on Sunday at Royal Montreal to win his second career PGA Tour event by one over Jim Furyk.

What The Win Means For Clark

Tim Clark is an interesting player. Before he won the Players Championship in 2010, Clark was always mentioned as being on that list of “best players without a win on the PGA Tour”, which really isn’t the list that you want to be on as a touring pro, and then he was frequently cited by people such as myself as the type of player who should win more often. Despite his complete lack of distance from the tee and a short game that borders on hideous, especially with the short wedges, Clark is a supreme ball striker who very rarely puts himself out of position, and of course, there’s also the one thing that everyone knows about him: the use of the long putter which you can see above.

Clark has a¬†genetic condition that prevents him from moving his wrists and elbows inward, which makes it nearly impossible for him to use a standard putter. For as long as I can remember, Clark has been anchoring on the greens but with the ban coming in for the 2016 season, Clark is one of many players who’s going to have to figure out some alternative method to putting in order to keep his job and that is why this win was so important on Sunday. That win at the Players four years ago came with a five year exemption on the PGA Tour, which obviously would have ran out at the end of next season, which is where Clark would have likely tried to do something different with the putter.

Despite the lack of wins, Clark has never really been a player who was in real danger of losing his PGA Tour card. He’s only finished outside of the top-60 in the FedEx Cup once since the format was introduced back in 2007, but if he had to start playing around with a new way to putt at 39 years old, there’s no doubt that his status on the PGA Tour would be challenged. At the very least, this win buys Clark some time as he tries to figure out what to do before the ban becomes official in the next 18 months.

What The Loss Means For Furyk

The guy who suffered the most with Clark’s win on Sunday was Jim Furyk, who came into the final day with a three shot lead but couldn’t close the deal, which has become a bit of a trend in recent years. Furyk’s last win on the PGA Tour came at the 2010 Tour Championship, and since that victory, he has held at least a share of the lead in seven tournaments heading into the final round. As was pointed out to me by several people on Twitter last night, not all leads are the same and yes, it’s much easier to “blow” a one-shot lead than a much larger one, but the numbers don’t paint a pretty picture for Furyk, who is now 9 of 24 in his career when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. The table below shows how he compares to his contemporaries across all tours.

Player Wins/Losses Percentage
Tiger Woods 58 of 65 89%
Adam Scott 12 of 17 71%
Phil Mickelson 29 of 43 67%
David Toms 8 of 12 66%
Ernie Els 26 of 40 65%
Vijay Singh 25 of 39 64%
Zach Johnson 3 of 5 60%
David Duval 7 of 12 58%
Steve Stricker 8 of 14 57%
Justin Leonard 5 of 12 42%
Jim Furyk 9 of 24 37%

So, what does this mean for Furyk going forward? He’s obviously still a great player and it’s difficult to find much fault with a guy who shot 67-63-65-69 over a four day stretch, especially someone who is currently fifth in the FedEx Cup, but with zero wins in four years despite numerous opportunities to do so, it’s becoming hard to believe that he can be trusted with a lead. Yes, his irons were great all day on Sunday, but the putter didn’t look good at all and while Sunday was more about the performance of Clark than the downfall of Furyk, we’re still looking at a guy who lost 1.4 strokes to the field on the greens over the final nine holes.

That shaky putter, which used to be a strength, has been at the heart of the issue for the last couple of years with Furyk. In the last five years, Furyk has been inside the top-20 in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour just once and currently sits in 119th place. I still think he can win on the PGA Tour because of how consistent he is from tee to green, but there definitely appears to be some scar tissue here, especially on the greens.

I can’t imagine that Tom Watson is thrilled that Furyk is looking like a Ryder Cup lock.

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