Los Angeles: South African Tim Clark is looking forward to "a fun week" for his title defence at the Canadian Open where he hopes to put behind him a frustrating 2015 campaign that was derailed by elbow surgery in February.
Clark has played in just two PGA Tour events since then, and was forced to withdraw from last week`s British Open at St Andrews in Scotland due to visa problems.
Canada, however, has always been a welcome sanctuary for a golfer whose wife hails from Toronto and he is delighted to be at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario this week after winning last year`s Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
"I was extremely proud of my win last year," Clark, 39, told reporters while preparing for Thursday`s opening round. "Winning in different countries means a lot to me as a player, so that was definitely special.
"Not often do you have the opportunity of coming back and defending any sort of title, so this will be a fun week. I take pride in winning a national championship like this.
"I`ve been fortunate to win the Australian Open and the Scottish Open, the South African Open and also here, so I`m just missing a couple big ones," he grinned, in reference to the two majors -- the British Open and U.S. Open.
Clark had major elbow surgery in 2011 which sidelined him for most of that season, so he has been encouraged by a much earlier return to action this year after having a similar procedure in February to repair a torn tendon.
"This time I`ve only missed five months, so I feel like I`ve been able to find my game a lot quicker," said the South African, a double champion on the PGA Tour.
"Although the (left) arm doesn`t feel a hundred percent right now, I know that the right one feels great, so it`s just a matter of time before it (the left) feels good. This is my third tournament back and my game feels pretty good."
Clark, who clinched last year`s Canadian Open by one shot over veteran Jim Furyk, faces a strong field that includes three players in the world`s top 10 – third-ranked Bubba Watson, Furyk (seventh) and Jason Day (ninth).
A notable absentee will be American Brandt Snedeker, the 2013 champion at Glen Abbey, who has been sidelined by a hip injury.