American golfer Wyndham Clark has followed a two-word rule into every competition for the past decade. This week, the 29-year-old has taken it to Los Angeles Country Club, where he has blasted through the first two rounds to jump into contention for the US Open. His mother, Lise Clark, died of breast cancer in 2013 while he was studying at Oklahoma State University and left him this instruction.
Clark told reporters after his second round on Friday, “She told me, ‘Hey, play big,'” when she was sick and I was in college.
“‘Play for something that is bigger than you are. You can witness, assist, or serve as a model for many people on this platform.
I’ve kept that in mind. I want to do that for her when I’m playing. I hope to inspire others to want to be like me and better than I am and to show everyone who I am and how much fun I have playing.
A 19-year-old Clark, out of shape and without his “rock,” seriously considered giving up the sport after the loss.
But he kept going, and his start at the US Open has been defined by big plays. After opening with a 64 at six under, just two shots off of Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele, the world’s No. 1 player,’s tournament-record rounds, 32 finished the round with a 67, one shot ahead of leader Fowler, and entered the weekend in sole second place.
The Denver-born golfer is well on his way to surpassing his best major finish, a top-75 finish at the PGA Championship in 2021, despite missing the cut in both previous attempts.
Clark is having a great time, so much so that he admitted to “feeling a little cocky,” but in the midst of his happiness is a hurt.
Clark stated, “I was walking down yesterday [Thursday] and was just smiling as I was playing well, and I go, “Man, I wish you could be here, Mom.” It’s a dream come true to be performing at the highest level in front of friends and family who are out here.”
“I wish she could be here, but I know she is proud of me, and she has had a significant influence on my life; she is the reason I am the person I am today.
She served as a sort of foundation and constant supporter. So, she was always there for me, whether things were hard or great, to keep me grounded and either lift me up or keep the high going.
I’m starting to get a little emotional. She is everything, and everything I do here is a lot for her. I miss her.
“I believe I can compete with the world’s best players,”
After winning the Wells Fargo Championship in May, Clark won his first PGA Tour title by four shots over Schauffele in Charlotte, North Carolina. This marked the end of a five-year streak and 133 PGA Tour appearances without a victory for Clark.
It was a boost to confidence for a player who was beginning to doubt whether a win would ever come after a string of good performances without silverware to start the year.
Clark added on Friday, “That’s a major championship golf course, and it demands a lot of the same things that this does and a US Open would require, which is all parts of your game being on.”
“Winning any tournament was significant to me, but that particular one felt like a major. I just have the impression that I can compete with the world’s best players, and I consider myself to be one of them.
At 6.40 p.m. ET, Clark and overnight leader Rickie Fowler will begin their third round.