Wyndham Clark was completing a Players miracle. And then? ‘It just sucks’

Wyndham Clark

Wyndham Clark on Sunday on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

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Wyndham Clark was going to do it. 

Wyndham Clark was going to do it? 

Really? Clark?

No offense is meant — he’s a ball-striking robot, after all — but hadn’t he been up by four shots after two Players Championship rounds? And was now down three to sensational Scottie Scheffler, who’d just wrapped up one of the most electric Players final rounds ever, a six-birdie, one-eagle, no-bogey 64? Yeah, Clark was. Part of it was Scheffler. Part of it was Clark as he stood on TPC Sawgrass’ 16th tee. He was one-under to that point, which would be akin to just floating in the nearby Atlantic Ocean, while Scheffler was ripping past in a jet ski. 

But Clark was dogged, even amidst Sawgrass’ fearsome finish. On the par-5 16th, from 187 yards out and water to his right, he rifled an iron just to the left of the pin, the ball finishing about 10 feet past. He missed short from there, but he made his birdie. 

He was down two. 


He walked to the par-3 17th, where Saturday he tripped. This was ugly. A pure chunk ahead of the famed island green, into the watery moat. Maybe that was in his head. The hole, playing to a back-right pin 136 yards away, can play tricks. But Clark was game. This was nasty. His ball dropped to the left of the flag, caught the slope and skated to 4 feet from the hole. He made that. 

He was down one. 


But there is a one-two-three punch at Sawgrass. The 18th, with water that lines the left side of the hole and trees along the right, is fiendish. But Clark found the fairway with his tee ball. He wedged to 17 feet with his second shot. He thought it’d be better — a club twirl was spotted — but his ball mostly stuck instead of skipping forward. No matter. He’d make this. He’d always wanted one of these, a putt to win, or in this case, a putt to tie. “One of those really awesome moments,” he admitted later. 

First, playing partner Xander Schauffele, who also had a shot to equal Scheffler, missed from 61 feet. Clark and caddie John Ellis then dug in. They measured. Clark, squatting, held his putter across from one open eye. Clark, holding a wedge, stood over the ball as Clark watched from behind. They discussed. NBC mics picked up this from Ellis: “I like it.” If you’re a Clark fan, you liked to hear it. They were confident.

Clark putted. 

Maybe. Wyndham Clark was going to do it! 

His ball started right. It moved left. 

Maybe. Wyndham Clark was going to do it! 

With about a foot to go, he said afterward, he believed his ball was headed toward the right-center of the cup. 

Maybe. Wyndham Clark was going to do it! 

His ball slid left.

It touched the front-left edge of the hole. It circled about halfway down.

It circled all the way out. It finished to the right. 

It missed. He lost. 

It was indescribable, try as the last few paragraphs might. Actually, scratch that thought. Clark himself actually found the proper phrasing to sum it all up. Three words.     

“It just sucks.”

Immediately after the putt, Clark turned away. He took his white hat off. He shoved his fingers through his hair. He made his second putt. He covered his face with his hat. How? What happened?

Reporters tried to get those answers. 

How certain was Clark that it was in? Very. If anything, he thought it would lip in. “I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in,” he said. 

Scottie Scheffler watches his tee shot on the par-3 17th during the final round of the Players Championship on Sunday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
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By: GOLF Editors

Did Clark hit the putt he wanted? He did. “Yeah, no, I hit it perfect,” he said. “It rolled end over end and had the speed to go in.”

Were there positives? Sure. He was runner-up for the second-straight week to Scheffler; last Sunday it came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The money’s nice. Just under 2 mill. “Maybe next week sometime I’ll really be able to look at those positives and feel good about it,” he said, “but right now I’m pretty down.”

Then he became reflective. 

Clark’s story has been one of golf’s most extraordinary over the past year. Breakthrough win last May at the Wells Fargo Championship. Breakthrough major win a month later, at the U.S. Open. A Ryder Cup spot. A victory this year at iconic Pebble Beach.

But consecutive runners-up will gnaw. That putt might. The really-greats finish. He gets it. 

Wyndham Clark was going to do it? 

Maybe now he will. 

“Yeah, I’m really hoping that these two seconds are just leading to something greater,” Clark said. “I believe that, and I hope that maybe these shortcomings in these last couple weeks lead to something greater. 

“I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead.”

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.