Wyndham Clark says this victory was a bigger hurdle than winning the U.S. Open

Reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark is coming off a banner year. In the span of a few months, Clark won two tournaments, including his first major championship, and played in his first Ryder Cup — all before turning 30 years old.

“I kind of checked off career goals that, you know, I’d say a lot of people have when they get into professional golf,” Clark told Subpar co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz on this week’s episode. “Like, OK, I’d love to win a tournament, love to hopefully contend or win a major and I’d love to make Ryder Cup team, and I did that all in one year. So, yeah, it’s honestly kind of surreal.”

According to Clark, it was his performance at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he won his first-ever PGA Tour event, that set the tone for the rest of his year.

Wyndham Clark lifts the trophy on the 18th green after the final round of the 123rd U.S. Open Championship at The Los Angeles Country Club on June 18, 2023.
2023 was the year Wyndham Clark broke out
By: Josh Berhow

“I’ve said this on a few different interviews, that I really don’t think I would have won the U.S. Open if I didn’t win [the Wells Fargo Championship] at Quail Hollow,” Clark said. “And so Quail Hollow was almost a bigger hurdle for me in my career, and mentally, than it was the U.S. Open, because I learned so much to myself that day.”

Clark said he managed to overcome a few hiccups at the start to stay in the hunt, with his lead ultimately evaporating.

“I think in the past, I would have gotten ahead of myself and I probably would have shot an even par or one-over and, you know, you lose by one or two and you just look at yourself and you’re pissed and, you know, still great finish, and everyone’s like, oh, great finish, you’re close,” Clark said. “But I learned so much in that and I dug deep and I didn’t get ahead of myself and I just continued to stay within my process.

“And then, I had a four-shot lead with five, six holes to go, and then I found myself in like, don’t-screw-up mode,” Clark continued. “And what was great, and I really was proud of myself, was I kept making birdies. I was like, hey, just stick with what we’ve been doing all week.”

Fast-forward to the U.S. Open just a few weeks later, and Clark had to call upon that grit once more at Los Angeles Country Club.

patrick cantlay
How Wyndham Clark lost thousands to Patrick Cantlay at the Ryder Cup
By: Josh Berhow

“I found myself a three-shot lead with four holes to go,” Clark said. “And granted, it’s the first time all week that I really checked the leaderboard and really thought about winning, truthfully. Like, obviously at night you do. But during the round, the first time I ever thought about it was when I birdied 14. And it was funny because I birdied it, and then I looked and I saw Rory watching to see if I made the putt. Like afterwards, he would kind of look and he goes, OK, he made birdie.

“And then I looked over the score and I was like, oh my gosh, I got a three shot lead, and I kind of just, I fantasized about the win, and then I came back and had the easiest wedge shot in the world. Make a bogey,” Clark continued. “And then, that’s honestly, it might have been the be one of the best things for me because then I got refocused, because I was like, all right, like, we’re not gonna be the person that blows a three-shot lead with four holes to go. And then I got right back into it. Yeah I bogeyed the next hole, but I hit three really good shots. And then I played hole 17 great, and 18, and so I really do think that win at Quail Hollow is the reason that I won the U.S. Open. And I actually would say it was tougher for me at Quail than it was at the US Open.”

For more from Clark, including some fun gambling stories and how he became friends with Brian Harman, check out the full interview below.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.