Ahead of the start of the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club this Friday, we have decided to profile the eight rookies from both teams. Second up for team USA is a recent major winner and a man full of self confidence heading into this week with his eye on one European player in particular.
Name: Wyndham Clark
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Wyndham Clark makes his debut in the Ryder Cup this year and while some rookies are quietly going about their business, US Open champion Clark certainly isn’t one of them. Speaking to the Golf Channel last week about the big match in Rome, when the topic of Rory McIlroy came up, Clark didn’t shy away from saying how he felt about the prospect of a battle with the European number one at Marco Simone Golf Club.
“I have the utmost respect for Rory – he is one of our great ambassadors of our game. He is obviously one of the best of all time and he is still going so he can be that. I have tons of respect for Rory and because of that respect, I also want to beat him. I like to think I am better than him and I want to prove that,” said Clark.
“I would love to play Rory, I think that would be really fun for the fans too. Long-ball hitters. We have similar games in that respect. It would be a little bit of David and Goliath. I am hoping to get that chance. Regardless of who I play, I am really excited. But that one would be a lot of fun.”After his first practice round at Marco Simone Golf Club today, Clark was asked about his comments last week and sure enough, the American upped the ante by doubling down on his comments.
“By no means has my career been as good as Rory McIlroy, I mean, he’s one of the best players, and I said that in the interview, that I had tons of respect, and I think he’s still one of the best players, but at the same time I mean I think I’m better than every player. How could you not think that, and if I don’t think that, then what am I doing out here.”
Will Clark’s comments prove he had the self confidence needed to flourish on the biggest stage or will the comments come back to bite him? We will find out once the Ryder Cup gets underway on Friday morning.
Clark was born in Denver Colorado in December 1993 into a devout Christian family. His father was a former professional tennis player and his mother was a former Miss New Mexico. Clark attended Valor Christian High School where he was classmates with San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey. Clark’s talent for golf was on display in High School, where he won the Colorado State Golf Championship on two occasions, and being named player of the year in 2011.
He finished ninth in stroke play at the 2013 US Amateur while attending Oklahoma State before transferring to Oregon in 2016 where he experienced immediate success, winning the PAC-12 conference championship and being named GolfWeek Player of the Year. Clark graduated with a business degree in 2017 and immediately set his sights on the Web.com Tour, earning his card for the 2018 season and made 24 starts in that campaign, racking up four top-10s, and graduating to the PGA Tour at the end of the year.
Clark lost in a play-off to Brian Gay in the 2020 Bermuda Championship and he had to wait until 2023 before his career elevated to a whole new level. In May, Clark won his first PGA Tour title at the Wells Fargo Championship, defeating Ryder Cup teammate Xander Schauffele by four shots, setting the stage for what was to come a month later.
On June 18th, Clark carded a final-round level-par 70 to win the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club by one stroke over Rory McIlroy. This was just Clark’s seventh major start with his previous best finish being 75th. The two high profile wins all but secured Clark’s place on Team USA and it now remains to be seen whether he can put his money where his mouth is. And who knows, we might just get Rory McIlroy vs Wyndham Clark in a singles duel on Sunday; you never know when it comes to the Ryder Cup.