Golf: Anger management pays off for Matthew Clark
MATTHEW Clark won his mind game in the first round of the Scottish Amateur Championship, then used his head to speak honestly about the differing world he lives in compared to the full-timers in the national squad.
Seeded in the SGU’s flagship event for the first time, the 30-year-old Kilmacolm player was delighted to squeeze past Dr John Mathers, a sports psychologist at Stirling University, after “getting away with murder” when his Haggs Castle opponent followed him into the thick stuff at the 16th but then watched him hole a 25ft birdie putt to keep the match alive at the next.
After using some “anger” to smash a 380-yard drive down as he sealed his one-hole success, Clark admitted: “John’s was the last name I wanted to see against mine when the draw came out, as he’s never going to lose the head, won’t give you too many holes and scraps well, so it’s a good one to get out of the way.”
No matter what happens here, Clark will see his golfing dream come true in a fortnight’s time when he makes his Scotland debut in the Home Internationals at Glasgow Gailes, having secured an automatic spot in the 11-strong team through sitting second on this season’s SGU Order of Merit. It’s a deserved reward for the Greenock-based senior banking manager after showing the dedication to either practise or hit the gym at the end of a long day, admitting that a recent five-week run of weekend events had left him feeling like “a burst bag of potatoes” when he returned to work every Monday morning.
Despite the fact he essentially competes on an uneven playing field, Clark, who won the Scottish Mid-Amateur at Duddingston in 2007 and has landed two Order of Merit titles in the last 18 months – the Craigmillar Park Open and Newlands Trophy at Lanark – is perfectly happy being a career amateur.
However, he believes the majority of full-time players these days don’t realise how lucky they are to get the chance to live, breathe and eat the game and he is hoping his presence in the Home International side, coming on the back of Kingsknowe’s Allyn Dick also making the team for the four-cornered event two years ago, will offer a different perspective in terms of modern-day amateur golf.
“Playing for Scotland has been my dream for the past ten years and hopefully I can impart to the full-time players how fortunate they are,” said Clark, who is grateful for the time off he has being afforded by his employers at present to take in a run that also includes next week’s European Individual Championship in Ireland.
“Most of them don’t realise the dedication required from players like myself. Don’t get me wrong, they are all talented players, but get them to do a week’s work with me, putting in more than 50 hours, and then let them tell you how hard that is.
“I’ve no ambition to be a full-time amateur as I don’t have the patience to hit balls on the range for three hours or work on my putting for three hours. But there are some people out there who get ahead of themselves and I don’t think they would realise what it means to me to get into the Scotland team.”
On a peach of a day on the Dornoch Firth, competitors reported that the majestic Highlands course is the first this summer playing like a true links. “It’s probably the firmest this year and it’s a case of getting used to it being a bit bouncy,” said Barassie’s Jack McDonald, the No 3 seed, after he had progressed.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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