As a Q-school graduate and self-described "good old boy," Michael Clark has big plans for his first winner's check on the PGA Tour.
Clark became the sixth first-time winner this season when he rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole Monday to defeat veteran Kirk Triplett in the rain-delayed John Deere Classic.
The victory meant a two-year exemption for Clark, a tour rookie who finished 11th in qualifying school last November to get his tour card.
And besides one of the sponsor's green-and-white lawn tractors, the victory brought Clark a $468,000 paycheck, with plenty of ways to spend it.
"Now I can get a front-end loader. ... I can get all the things I want. I'm dead serious," said Clark, from Dalton, Ga., whose best previous finish this season was a tie for 13th at the Compaq Classic in New Orleans.
In a final round suspended Sunday because of heavy rain, Clark shot a 4-under 67, but Triplett birdied the final hole of regulation to tie in a tournament-record 19-under 265. Triplett, whose victory in the Nissan Open this year was his career first, had a final-round 70.
Triplett twice made birdies to keep the playoff going. He earned $280,000 of the $2.6 million purse, helping his bid to make the Presidents Cup team in October.
Triplett, who was 2 over in nine holes before thunderstorms suspended play Sunday, said the rain delay helped him. He said he played more aggressively Monday.
"It's not too often you get a second chance at the last round in the same tournament," he said. "I just had good aggressive focus all day because I was always behind and I always needed to make birdie."
Charles Howell, who turned pro after winning the NCAA championship at Oklahoma State, had a 66 and finished one stroke out of the playoff. He earned $176,800, boosting his yearly earnings high enough to earn a special tour exemption.
"This is more than I had expected this week," said Howell, who turned pro last month and is still carrying his college bag.
Clark led by one when play was suspended and said he was ready for the playoff when Triplett's final-hole approach wound up in birdie range. He said he relied on experience from losing a playoff on the old Nike Tour, now the Buy.Com Tour, in 1997.
"When I heard Triplett knocked it close, I more or less had given him the putt mentally and knew we were going to the playoff," he said.
Clark, who plans to play The International in Castle Rock, Colo., next weekend, said he hopes to collect another victory soon.
"I want more people to know who Mike Clark is instead of everybody this week going, 'Who?"' he said.
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