Wyndham Clark holds off McIlroy and Scheffler, wins U.S. Open at LACC

Wyndham Clark lifts U.S. Open trophy after win

Wyndham Clark held off Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Rickie Fowler to win the 2023 U.S. Open for his first major title.

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The first page of the U.S. Open leaderboard was full of intriguing storylines Sunday morning.

First, there was Rickie Fowler, a longtime fan favorite in the midst of a career resurgence, with the chance to rewrite the narrative of his entire career. Rory McIlroy was up there, too, looking for his first major title in nearly a decade. A U.S. Open win for him would thrust him into rarified air. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, even with a balky putter, found himself in the mix as well.

With so many star-studded names at the top of the board, there wasn’t much attention paid to Wyndham Clark. Despite playing in the final paring pairing, the 29-year-old wasn’t much more than an afterthought with 18 holes to go.

Twelve hours later, Clark was a major champion.

“I just feel like I’ve worked so hard,” Clark said. “I’ve dreamed about this moment for so long.”

Clark was not perfect on Sunday. Far from it, in fact. Although he made four birdies, he gave back each of those shots with an equal number of bogeys. But in a U.S. Open, par is your friend, and an even-par showing on Sunday was enough to hang on for a major title.

“U.S. Opens are tough,” Clark said. “I just kept saying ‘I can do this. I can do this.'”

Teeing off late in the SoCal afternoon, Clark seized momentum immediately. He birdied three of his first six holes to take the solo lead, and with the stars behind him stuck in neutral, it looked as though he might coast to the title. But as so often is the case in U.S. Opens, trouble lurked around every corner.

Clark bogeyed the par-5 8th — complete with a whiff in a waste area — but after blasting his next shot over the green, he got up-and-down to limit the damage. The scorecard read 6, but it may as well have been birdie.

“Honestly, that on 8 was probably the key to the tournament,” Clark said.

In the group ahead, Scheffler and McIlroy were putting on a ball-striking clinic. As good as their ball striking was, though, their putters never gave them much of a chance to close the gap. The duo hit approach after approach within makable range, but they could only combine for four birdies on the day — three for Scheffler and one for McIlroy.

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It was deja vu all over again for McIlroy. He had an eerily similar final round at St Andrews last summer when he hit the ball beautifully but could not make enough putts to secure the title.

“I think the putter I’ll rue some of the chances that I missed,” McIlroy said. “I hung in there and I fought right to the end. Didn’t quite get the job done, but I’ll keep coming back till I get another one.”

McIlroy’s 271 total is the lowest in a U.S. Open for a player who did not win the title. His winless drought in majors has now extended to 33 starts, dating back to the 2014 Open Championship.

“I’m right there,” McIlroy said. “It’s such fine margins at this level, but I’m just going to keep putting myself in these positions and sooner or later it’s gonna happen for me.”

Clark opened a three-stroke lead after birdieing the par-5 14th, but bogeys on 15 and 16 trimmed his margin to one. After missing the green at the 17th, it looked as though a playoff was imminent. But after a nifty save from left of the green, Clark needed only par on 18 for the win.

Although he flared his drive a bit right, he caught a piece of the fairway on the par-4 finisher. He hit a 7-iron to the front of the green and then took two putts to clinch his second PGA Tour victory and first major title.

“There’s been so many times I’ve visualized being here in front of you guys and winning this championship,” Clark said. “I just felt like it was my time.”

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.