Dan Nicholl at Arabella
Sun, 27 Nov 2005
The Nelson Mandela Invitational finished on a perfect note at Arabella on Sunday, with Tim Clark's victory allowing the South African star to make good on his pledge to give his winnings to a hearing-impaired girl in Cape Town in need of a cochlear transplant.Clark and professional partner Vincent Tshabalala won the betterball competition, a combined two-day total of 17-under-par giving them a four shot victory over Gary Player and Trevor Immelman. And with R250 000 to share between them, Clark's money will enable Siobhan, a young girl he met earlier in the week during a visit to the Carel Du Toit School For The Hearing Impaired, to get the operation she needs to enable her to hear. And with the golf serving as a vehicle for charity, Clark's gesture was an appropriate touch, as was the victory in the fourball alliance for Player's team, with the event host having celebrated his 70th birthday in November, and marking it with a birthday party on Saturday night. The real celebration came on Sunday, however, as Player, Immelman, Coca Cola South Africa Division Executive Director Alex Maditsi and former American football star Ahmad Rashad combining superbly, a 27-under-par total putting them four shots clear of Lee Westwood, Simon Hobday, singer Ronan Keating and Coca Cola Africa Division President David Lyons. Dressed in matching orange shirts and beige trousers, Player and Immelman had a large gallery following them, and the Black Knight was delighted with the outcome. "It's the first time I've won," he said afterwards, and paid tribute to his team members, who were equally enamoured with the win. "I've won a lot of trophies, but this one is going to the top of the pile, even topping the Superbowl," Rashad said after picking up a win on debut. Playing off a five handicap, the genial American struck the ball cleanly and putted well, providing perfect back-up to the professionals. Clark's victory will be a perfect warm-up for the Nedbank Golf Challenge next, where he will be joined by Retief Goosen, who looked slightly below par at Arabella, conceding that he wasn't entirely happy with his swing. No such problems for Clark, however, and while the return of Ernie Els will be the big story at Sun City, the quiet South African could be a good outside bet on his current form; if he does pull off another win, the loudest cheer will come from a little girl in Cape Town — and soon enough, she'll be able to hear those cheers, one of the many children to benefit from a weekend of golfing charity par excellence.