Jonathan Clark, the 2010 International Junior Masters champion from Elma, NY, is currently working full-time on his golf game in Tampa, Florida. He competed this week in the inaugural South Beach International Amateur championship in Miami, Florida, where he tied for 40th against a stellar field. He took time out of his training schedule to answer an octet of questions for BuffaloGolfer.Com.1. How’d you hear about the tournament? It’s the first running of the event.
I actually heard about the tournament from Jake Katz. We were sitting on the patio after a round and he got the email and told me I should play. So I did.
2. What can you say about Normandy Shores and Miami Beach golf clubs? Do they compare with anything we have in western New York?
Both courses were nice. It was so surprising how courses could be like Miami
Beach golf club and yet [they’re] right in the middle of everything. Normandy was a bit
easier and it was more open so you had room to miss more shots and still manage a
decent score. Miami Beach Club was a good course, great condition, smooth greens, but the
wind was its real only defense and it was low winds today so I took advantage. Don’t
really know what to compare them to in Buffalo, everything is water down here
instead of trees and that’s something I’ve had to adapt to.
3. Describe your week for us…practice rounds, preparation, four rounds of competition.
It started off good, my two great friends Jake Kreuz and Billy Gaffney came down
to Tampa to visit me and practice with me and my coach John Hulbert. John is very
influential on my game, he gave us different situations through practice on the courses and we had to execute the shots. He helped come up with game plans for the rounds. The preparation was easy, I have been hitting it well for a while now so me and John didn’t have to worry about the swings, it was knowing that when I got it under par I could stay there. The first two rounds were tough, the winds were up and Miami club had tough pins, luckily my putter was working. I figured the cut was gonna be around +9 or 10 so my goal after my first round of 75 was to just deal with the conditions and shoot something to get me inside the cut. The third round was stressful, I felt good on the first couple holes then I just lost it, it was hard to focus, somehow I managed to keep it at 78. Today [Friday] was a good solid round of golf, hit almost every fairway and probably 13-14 greens, I stated off hot and then made minor mistakes on 5 and 8 but turned at even, the. Started off hot on the back I birdied 10, 11 and 13 and got to 3 under, from then on I just went to cruise control and didn’t really push the pedal. I knew 69 would be a good score today.
4. Did you use a caddy? If so, who and how’d you find her/him?
No caddy, I rode in a cart. It was a walk able course, but I felt I’d hold the group up if I was the only one of us walking.
5. You improved from day one to day two, then you played with Chris Covelli…did he make you nervous?
No I wasnt nervous, covelli is a good player and I enjoy playing with him, we both just left our A games in the Hotel room before we left that morning for the course. I haven’t talked to him since I left and when I saw I was paired with him I was like this is kinda cool. We both made mistakes that [cost] us, he did clip me by one so I wanted to clip him today to make it even. I enjoyed playing with him, he’s made improvements to his game, he’s always had a good short game since I started playing with him and rolls it good.
6. What did you find between rounds three and four that took you to a 69 on Friday?
Idk what happened, I had a nice dinner with my mom the night before the final
round down on ocean drive. Then she really took my mind off everything and basically
was able to take that bad round out of my head, I went back to my empty hotel room
and talked to [my girlfriend] for a while and she was like my mom and took my mind off golf. The morning I woke up and just had a feeling It was my day, I got to the course and
the conditions were perfect, low winds, fast greens, I was hitting it good enough that I just had to keep the thing between my ears under control and I did. All John asked for was one round under par that week, so that was my goal on the first tee.
7. Tell us about the hole-out for eagle? How long was hole, what did you hit, did the ball spin back, trickle in, slam in?
I stood on the tee and theres a bunker on the left side that’s like 270 to carry and it’s a slight dog leg left, not long [on the] whole probably like 350 yards. So I told myself just smooth a slight draw over left side of the bunker and you should be right in front of the green. I did that. And then as I was driving up to my ball I saw it was sitting up a little but then I looked at the pin and I shook my head cause I knew I had my work cut out for me. If I came up short I was in the bunker, 2 feet after the hole it was down grain down hill into a run off and I had no room left of the whole. I had about 10 feet of green to work with from 53 yards and I said [to myself] well you practiced these all last week from 50, what’s another 3 yards. I flopped it up and at first I was like o no that’s long, but then it landed soft and checked hard and apparently just trickled in. I didn’t see it go it but everyone else did.
8. What does your competitive schedule look like for this year?
My schedule for 2012 is in the works, I’ll play the new years invite right in January, then take it easy and practice with John for a couple months maybe play a couple one day pro events as an amateur and the azalea is in march, I hope to play in that. Then I should get home in may I’ll have the US Open qualifier, the Monroe, and depending how I play until then I’m hoping I won’t have to qualify for Porter Cup. Then the schedule from there is up in the air, I need to keep playing hard and good so I can have a good schedule.
Editor’s Note: 2011 USGA Amateur champion Kelly Kraft held on for a 0ne-stroke victory over Clement Sordet of France. Clark’s 69 was second-low score of the day, after the 68 shot by four competitors.