Clark clinches Bell's South African Open

Sunday, January 13th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) _ Third-round leader Tim Clark of South Africa held off a last-round charge by England's Steve Webster with a brilliant seven-under-par 65 of his own Sunday, to win the Bell's South African Open played at the Durban Country Club.

Clark's two stroke win in 269 shots in the world's second-oldest open tournament was his first in his home country after two victories in Canada, and one on the United States Dotcom Tour.

But he had to fend off Webster, who closed with an eight-under-par 64 _ enough to keep Clark on his toes throughout the final day.

Clark also had to contend with the rigors of having to qualify, to which he strenuously objected. His victory made him the first qualifier ever to win the South African Open.

``I enjoy the course, but it was almost too much pressure with parents and all my friends watching me out there,'' said Clark, who lives in the area.

Clark showed signs of buckling under the pressure when he three-putted the 11th, but he got back on track very quickly with a sweet run of birdies, which held Webster at bay.

``Even those birdies weren't enough to make me feel comfortable,'' Clark said.

In joint third were England's Jonathan Lomas and South Africa's James Kingston, who led the nine million rand (dlrs 786,000) tournament at the halfway mark.

Retief Goosen, South Africa's 2001 US Open champion was a shot further back after a tournament during which he never seemed to be able to lift his game to match the intensity of the hungry young Clark.

The other great round of the final day, also a 64, came from David Park of Wales, who seemed well out of contention on 212 after the third round. But his eight-under-par closer took him to joint fifth with Goosen, Alistair Forsyth of Scotland and Simon Dyson of England.

World number five Ernie Els shot a final round 69, leaving him 10 shots off the pace.