Wyndham Clark prepares for Wells Fargo title defense

At the start of last season, Wyndham Clark was ranked 163rd in the world rankings. At the time, even the most ardent golf fans would first picture the hotel franchiser if they heard his name mentioned on a broadcast.

But, from the first week of May 2023, the name of the player who is currently second on the circuit in strokes gained/total, behind Scottie Scheffler, would experience a seismic jump.

The latent potential that had once propelled the Denver-born golfer to the top of the leaderboard at two Colorado State Championships and to the individual title at the Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships had become partially dormant since he turned professional . But after being bottled for a few years, it came back with a vengeance as the basic crusher transformed into an accomplished contender.

SoFi’s new ambassador notched his first PGA Tour victory at Wells Fargo last year
Wells Fargo
Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte in dominant fashion, beating runner-up Xander Schauffele by four strokes.

A whirlwind of success followed: a month later he won his first major championship and earlier this year he added the trophy at Pebble Beach to his list of achievements. Add to that two second-place finishes in March and Dubs has moved up to third in the world rankings. It’s understandable that his memory of the tournament that kicked his career into high gear is a little hazy.

“I just remember the joy and excitement I felt about getting my first PGA Tour victory and the weight that was lifted off my shoulders to have finally succeeded and done something I “Always knew what I could do and dreamed of doing,” Clark said.

From self-doubt to confidence

Those who have seen Neflix At his best The Season 2 episode “Mind Game” knows how sports psychologist Julie Elion had a huge impact on revamping Clark’s mental game so that he could more healthily handle the adversity of the course and have a more positive attitude.

His first years on the top tour were full of doubts. When asked if there were times when he wasn’t sure if he could ever win an event, Clark was quick to admit that that would be absolutely true.

“At first I thought I was going to win, and then as I got to the third, fourth and beginning of the fifth year, as I was playing really good golf and doing everything better than ever and that I still hadn’t broken through, I was really frustrated Last year before Quail Hollow I had a handful of good finishes on Sunday I was either tied for the lead or a few shots away. I couldn’t get through it and it started to take a toll on me.

“The good thing is that I stuck with it, kept believing that I could do it, that good things were going to happen, and then boom, I won at Quail Hollow and now I have three wins , which is pretty awesome.”

The victory at Wells Fargo lit the spark that changed the course of Clark’s career. It instilled in him a deep belief in his own abilities that he could rely on while fighting, overcoming setbacks in the later rounds, and ultimately winning the US Open at the LA Country Club the following month.

“This win is why I had such a good year last year and why I won a major tournament. I felt really confident when I was at the US Open. I just beat essentially the same pitch at Quail Hollow on an equally difficult golf course. I had the belief that “Hey, I can win and I just won, so now it wasn’t about if I could win, it was just about believing that it was going to happen and it was going to continue.” to happen,” Clark said. said.

This is the final year of the Wells Fargo Championship as the bank chose not to renew its sponsorship deal, leaving the future of the Charlotte tournament currently up in the air for the time being. Clark, for his part, hopes another company steps in and they continue to play at Quail Hollow, which is already scheduled to host the 2025 PGA Championship, on an annual basis.

“I really hope we continue to play at Quail Hollow. This tournament has been rated one of the top three events, if not number one, by players, caddies and families every year in terms of the hospitality, the way they treat us, the quality of the golf course, the fans, the city. It’s always one of the best events and we don’t have many regular stops at the big championship golf courses and playing Quail Hollow year after year has been incredible. I really hope we continue to play there for another ten, twenty years.

Wild finishes by design

In 2003, while the event was a new face of Guppie on tour, David Toms entered the 18th the tee on Sunday with a six-shot lead. But, the pressure cooker of a hole that closes with a thin but ball-engulfing stream snaking all the way down the left side, trees on the right and trouble all around the green that nearly shredded what was then a check million dollar winner. Toms’ drive veered 50 yards right into the foliage, beginning a litany of weaknesses that led to a quadruple bogey.

“A lot of golf holes you can usually just jump in and take your chances, but on this one you really can’t. You have to hit a good tee ball and then a great second shot. It’s an incredible golf hole,” Clark said.

Quail Hollow is a true test of mettle, framed by thick Bermuda rough, but its final stretch of holes, the famous “Green Mile,” is the most grueling section of the golf course.

“Once you get to 16, 17, 18, if you play them evenly for the whole week, you will win a lot on the court. It’s definitely one of the toughest stages we have in golf and it’s exciting because a lot can happen,” he added.

Whether it has a good week or not, expect Wyndham to roll with the punches or climb the standings with the same aplomb. He’s cultivated a zen attitude when it comes to his performance while seemingly embracing the central tenets of stoicism and good old positive psychology – feeling that he performs better on the ropes when he feels gratitude.

“I’m so grateful to be able to go out on the golf course every day that I wake up, do what I love and compete in front of thousands and millions of people and I’m grateful to be able to do that. I find that when I am in this posture of gratitude and gratitude is when I am most focused and relaxed and my best golf comes out.

When asked if he thinks he’ll be a multi-major champion, Clark offers a similarly philosophical answer.

“I can’t control the results. What I can control is my mental game, my process, the amount of work I put into it and if it’s in the cards, if it’s in God’s plan and I’m supposed to win multiple major tournaments, so good.

But if not, he will accept it and continue to enjoy the journey of striving to play his best golf while also doing his role as an ambassador for the game.