Colonial lead is good medicine for Clark

Colonial lead is good medicine for Clark

Rain has made Colonial Country Club play much easier than normal, and Tim Clark has taken full advantage of the good scoring conditions.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Tim Clark is already expressing confidence about being a better player once he takes time to properly rest his stiff neck.

While the long-needed break waits, Clark is showing that he’s still pretty good.

Clark had a bogey-free 6-under 64 in his second round Friday without missing a fairway or a green, after finishing the back nine of his opening round, to get to 11 under and take a one-stroke lead over Arron Oberholser (66) in the rain-drenched Colonial.

“It’s nice to see the golf game has not completely left me compared to the limited amount of practice I have been able to do,” Clark said.

With the help of anti-inflammatory medicine along with 11 birdies and only one bogey in his 27 holes Friday, Clark never noticed the muscular and joint stiffness in his neck that has bothered him on and off since last summer.

After shooting under 70 only once in his first 20 rounds this season, Clark finished two sub-70 rounds in one day.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting it,” said Clark, the 31-year-old South African who has never won on the PGA Tour. “The adrenaline was going at the end, and I almost had to calm myself down a bit.”

Oberholser, who has overcome back problems that kept him from defending his only tour victory at Pebble Beach in February, had six birdies and two bogeys after an opening bogey-free 64 that included five birdies in an eight-hole stretch.

Ben Curtis (67), Jim Furyk (66) and Nathan Green (66) were at 9-under 131, with Alex Cejka (65), Kevin Na (69) and first-round leader Anthony Kim (69) at 8 under.

After half of the 114-player Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial field had to complete their first rounds Friday before playing 18 more holes, there were 27 players still on the course when the second round was suspended because of darkness.

The 36-hole cut was projected to be under par for the first time in the 61 years at Colonial. It will be made after the second round is completed Saturday morning.

Two days of the rain softened usually firm and fast Hogan’s Alley, a traditional tree-lined layout that covers 7,054 yards, and made for record-low scoring.

The first-round scoring average of 69.342 was the lowest at the Colonial in the 25 years since the PGA Tour starting keeping such statistics. There were 63 rounds under par in the first round, and already 52 more in the suspended second round.

“The golf course is just not playing itself right now,” said Furyk, who at No. 3 in the world ranking is the only of the top 12 players at Colonial.

Clark’s 11-under 129 total was only one shot off the 36-hole tournament record held by Kenny Perry, who opened with rounds of 65 and 63 on way to winning his second Colonial title in 2005.

This is only his eighth PGA Tour event this year for Clark, whose best finish was 13th at the Masters after he was tied for the 36-hole lead. He was better than 62nd only one other tournament, withdrew from the Wachovia and had a closing 81 at The Players Championship.

“That wasn’t any fun at all,” Clark said. “I’m not doing myself any favors, not doing my confidence much good either. … It’s time for me to really get it sorted out. This could be my last event for a while. I want to end on a good note.”

Notes: Maybe K.J. Choi should have waited to finish No. 18. When play was suspended Friday, players had the option of completing their current holes. Choi hit his drive way right, then went into the water and butchered his way to a quadruple-bogey 8. … The fairways and greens were softer, but the wet grass made the heavy rough tougher. Furyk found out at the 611-yard 11th hole, when he missed the fairway with his first two shots on the course’s longest hole, then had to hack it out the high grass before a three-putt for double bogey. … Defending champion Tim Herron finished with three straight birdies in a round of 68 to get to 5 under. … Brian Gay followed a hole-in-one at 194-yard No. 8 hole with six bogeys and one birdie in his final 28 holes. He will miss the cut at 3 over.

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