Wyndham Clark wasn’t perfect Sunday, but that’s what he prepared for

Wyndham Clark of the United States celebrates winning on the 18th green during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club on May 07, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wyndham Clark's first win was emotional.

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Wyndham Clark was just a few inches from perfect on Saturday. His approach on 18 just finished off the left edge of the putting surface, yet he was so dialed, he reacted as if it was destined for the creek guarding the green.

That was the only green Clark missed Saturday in a sparkling 63 at Quail Hollow Club to seize the lead at the Wells Fargo Championship.

He was further from perfect Sunday, but that was OK.

“I started off with a bogey and missed the first few greens,” Clark said after the final round. “Even on the back side hit some squirrelly shots here and there and I even missed some short putts, like the ones on 7 and 9, I really wanted those ones, I thought that was going to make things easier.”

Winning isn’t supposed to be easy. Clark hadn’t won a tournament of any kind since his senior year of college in 2017. He’d been in contention a couple of times: he held a 54-hole lead at the 2019 Honda Classic and lost a playoff at the Bermuda Championship the next year.

But even before that, his path to the PGA Tour was not necessarily typical nor was it full of triumph.

His mother died of breast cancer before his sophomore year at Oklahoma State. She was the one who introduced him to the game.

“She’s the first one that took me to the golf course,” Clark said. “She was not a golfer, so outside of after getting me into golf, she didn’t do much as far as golf. She was always my kind of rock in my life. Even in junior golf, there’s times when you’re so mad and you feel like you should have done better or you’re embarrassed with how you played, or other sports, she was always there to comfort me.”

Wyndham Clark of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club on May 07, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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He considered quitting golf and was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA to redshirt the season.

“I was playing terribly,” he recalled. “There’s many times when I stormed off the golf course in qualifying or in tournaments and just drove as fast as I could, I didn’t know where I was going. I just, just the pressure of golf and then not having my mom there and someone that I could call was really tough for me.”

He didn’t give up the game. He got a fresh start at Oregon for one final season in college and capped it with a win at the Pac-12 Championship.

His pro career started well and he spent just one season on the Korn Ferry Tour before earning his PGA Tour card.

Then he stalled again. He maintained his PGA Tour status each year, but couldn’t break through for his first win.

“I’ve had multiple moments like that where you just, you miss multiple cuts in a row or you feel like your game is good and you’re not getting much out of it and you just contemplate doing it,” Clark said. “Max Homa has a great quote of every golfer’s one shot away from thinking they can win the Masters or one shot away from quitting golf.

“It really is a great quote because that’s the truth. I’m glad I stuck it out and am here now.”

Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark laugh while waking along the second fairway together during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 6, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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For Clark, that one shot came from a renewed focus on his mental game.

“A lot of what happened is I would get too amped up and I would show a lot of emotion, which then makes it tougher for me to make good solid swings,” he said. “I don’t know if I would have made bogeys or a lot of mistakes, but I would have been way more uncomfortable and it would have been even tougher.

“Today I wouldn’t let my mind go in that direction. I just kept reminding myself that I could play great golf and I could play good golf on Sundays.”

Even after his shaky start and loss of his lead to Xander Schauffele by the seventh hole, Clark never waivered or showed emotion. Instead, he drove it just in front of the eighth green and chipped to four feet and made an easy birdie to regain a share of the lead.

He made four more birdies on the back nine to pull away and claim his first win.

“I kept telling myself, honestly, I’ve had multiple texts between my caddie or coaches or mentors, whatever saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have to be perfect today. You just have to get the ball in the hole and stay patient and really stay in the present,'” he said. “I felt like I did a good job of that.”

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.