Wyndham Clark looking to recapture last year’s US Open form

PINEHURST, N.C. — Wyndham Clark is hoping to rediscover the mojo that carried him to his U.S. Open victory a year ago at LA Country Club.

That, of course, has been the pinnacle of his career to date.

His results of late, however, have not exactly inspired anyone to bet the ranch on him repeating as the national champion.

Wyndham Clark
Wyndham Clark takes a practice round ahead of the U.S. Open. Getty Images

Clark enters this week’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst having missed his past two cuts — at the PGA Championship and at the Memorial and has three missed cuts in his past five starts.

“My frustration level is definitely higher than it’s been in a long time,’’ Clark said Monday. “It’s kind of a bummer. I haven’t been playing my best golf. It’s been kind of a tough stretch these last few weeks. I’m trying to gain some momentum for the rest of the season. I know that maybe sounds like low expectations for the week, but honestly, I’d love to just gain some momentum.’’

Clark was very open about the effects the game can have on players mentally, and referred to the suicide death of fellow PGA Tour player Grayson Murray on May 25.

“That’s obviously a very sad and tragic situation that happened,’’ Clark said. “The unfortunate thing for what we do is it is so lonely and it’s very difficult. Too often I think players, including myself, get tied up so much in score and outcome, [because] the game of golf is so frustrating and so hard.

“There are those really lonely times when you miss the cut, you throw your clubs in the car, you drive off, and you’re very pissed off. Obviously, on TV they typically show the guys playing great [and] the game seems awesome. In reality I’d say 80 percent of the field storms off pretty pissed off after a lot of the rounds. That’s just the nature of our game. That’s why it is such a mental game.

“It’s lonely. I’ve been in many low spots where you have some negative thoughts which you don’t ever want to have. Golf can do that to you. You got to do your best to not let it do that.’’

Wyndham Clark
Wyndham Clark won the U.S. Open last year. USA TODAY Sports

Clark said as he’s played more and gotten more experience, “I’ve learned that there’s so many different skill levels out here, and the difference between the guys that really make it and enjoy the game, have a long career, they’re just better mentally than everyone,” he said.

Clark needs to look at a bigger picture of this season, in which he has a win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, runner-up finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship and a third at the RBC Heritage.

Clark has, in the past year-plus, worked with mental coach Julie Elion and credited much of his success (two wins last year) to her guidance. So, despite the poor recent results, Clark is trying to power on with positive thoughts.

“It’s the great thing about golf: There’s always another week,’’ he said. “I’ve got to believe that good golf is around the corner. I’ve been kind of bummed as of late with my game. I’m always reminded when I get on these practice tees and hit good shots, I’m still doing a lot of good things in practice, and it makes me feel like I’m not far. It’s just bringing it to competition.

“I’m hoping it’s this week and it starts a good run of playing good golf the rest of the year.’’

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