Tim Clark believes the future of South African golf is in good hands with the likes of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, as better opportunities arise for young players.
Clark, who has long played second-fiddle to more illustrious countrymen Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, has enjoyed his best season, winning his first PGA Tour event in eight years and posting six other top-10s.
Now 34, he is encouraged by what he sees in South Africa, particularly Oosthuizen, who won The Open Championship this year.
“South Africa has a strong golfing tradition. Bobby Locke in the 30s to 50s where he won five British Opens and then Gary Player,” said Clark, who is in Malaysia for the CIMB Asia-Pacific Classic.
“After Gary, there weren’t too many to make it big in the US but since Retief Goosen and Ernie Els have won Majors it’s spurred a lot of young players.
“We could have had more South African players. Since my age group, players like Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have been given more opportunities to go out and play.
“Me and Rory Sabbatini were lucky to get into university in the States and that really was what got us out of South Africa and on to the world scene.
“Nowadays, there are more opportunities for young players. People love the sport in South Africa and guys get involved and they take it very seriously. That is very encouraging.”
Outside of Singapore, Clark has rarely played in Asia, but said it was clear the popularity of golf in the region was growing rapidly and compared it with his home country.
“I’ve seen the growth down here for sure,” he said. “Just with the amount of Asian players we see in the Majors and the world golf events, it shows the game is growing. It’s fantastic.
“Growing up in South Africa, the game was already a big sport, and now, in countries here, you get the same feel that the kids want to play golf.” — Sapa-AFP