Wyndham Clark and the Wild Year Leading to Augusta

As the PGA and LIV continue to dance around one another in the ring, Wyndham Clark and the best golfers in the world from both leagues will settle it themselves in Augusta

By Jim Bebbington

A year ago Wyndham Clark was a relative unknown. He had been a PGA Tour professional for four years, but other than a playoff loss at the 2020 Bermuda Championship he had not covered himself with much PGA glory. He had earned about $1 million a year since 2019. Unlike today few outside of his home state of Colorado and his college programs at Oregon and Oklahoma State knew much about him.

What a difference a year can make.

Then he won his first PGA Tour victory last May at the Wells Fargo Championship, and amazing things began to happen:

– U.S. Open champion- Member of the U.S. Ryder Cup Team
– Regular in featured foursomes early in tournaments and being promoted as a marquee name during TV coverage.
– The first golfer sponsored by Mark Wahl- berg’s clothing brand, MUNICIPAL.
– Tour and FedEx Cup earnings of just shy of $16 million.

But when he was asked what his first victory meant to him – what really changed in his life – Wyndham Clark was quick to answer: now, finally, he would get to play in the Masters.

“First off, winning (means) getting into the Masters and that’s a dream come true,” he said last summer. “That’s the only tournament I haven’t played in in professional golf is that one. So, you know, just playing that, it’s amazing.”


Clark’s stock going into the 2024 Masters is as high as ever.

Even his putter is working.

Clark’s game has been solid ever since he won high school championships in Colorado for Valor Christian High School. Once he became a professional, it was never a question of whether he had the game to win. It was his mind.

Clark struggled with keeping his emotions away from his golf swing. His first few years are the definition of watching a player learn how to win.

Then last winter he began working with a new sports psychologist – Julie Elion of Cape Performance. She worked with Clark to find the right mix of competitive fire and humility in dealing with the inevitable stumbles of professional golf.

It was at Valor Christian that Clark met someone who has seen the transition first-hand, his sophomore year English teacher Brian Kettler. Kettler is still a teacher at Val- or but traveled in January to Pebble Beach to root on his friend, and was staying with him in Clark’s rental home when he got the call that the final day of competition was canceled and Clark had won again.

“We have a transparent friendship,” Kettler said. “It’s a combination of all of it; it’s the gift of 15 years of friendship I can see it in his eyes whether he wants to chill out or if he is ready for more conversation. It’s a joy to watch him handle himself post-round.”

With the weather howling on the Sunday of what should have been the final round of Pebble Beach, Clark and Kettler killed time by playing full-contact ping pong. “It was a typical ping pong battle – sweating, laugh- ing, talking smack….”

Kettler said through the weekend it was fascinating to watch his friend deal with all the elements. He couldn’t fully relax, but with the weather delay, there was nothing to prepare for. “It was hard to anticipate how it was going to develop,” he said. “As an athlete, it’s dangerous to think (it’s over) and then you may have to go out Monday with a one-stroke lead against the best players in the world. When we got the official news it was awesome; it was just one of those moments in life. It was a mountaintop moment.”

“We gave each other a big old hug and shared some tears,” Kettler said.


And if winning at Bing Crosby’s old clam bake wasn’t enough to keep Clark high on golf fans’ radar, the upcoming season of Full Swing Season 2 will.

The new season of the Vox Media documentary series is on Netflix and features all the chaos of last season – the LIV deal, the Ryder Cup massacre – as well as a deep dive into Clark’s U.S. Open victory. With Clark’s personal story of his mother’s passing and his openness about his mental health and emotions, Vox producers have called Clark’s episode ‘powerful.’

“It’s not easy to just have a bunch of strangers show up with movie cameras and come into your living room and film you doing a meditation,” Chad Mumm, Vox’s chief creative officer, said at a joint press conference he and Clark held before the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “And it wasn’t just Wyndham, it was his entire team; Rob (Mougey), his agent/manager, John (Ellis) his caddie, and Julie (Elion), his sports psychologist. I think this episode is going to do a lot for de-stigmatizing the idea of therapy and how it can help professional athletes and anybody, honestly, be the best they can be.”

Clark said the process of having his ups and downs documented for the show was just an extension for him to share honestly what it’s taken to get to this point in his life.

“In these last probably I want to say really the last three to four years you’ve seen people openly be like, man, I’m struggling in life or mentally stuff isn’t right up in the head,” he said. “I think prior to that people were scared to say that and now people are acknowledging that everyone has those issues.

“So I think that’s more of why you’re seeing it. I don’t necessarily think there are more sports psychologists or people who are now buying into it. I think people are opening up more about it. And I think it’s good, I think it shows that we are humans. In tennis or in golf or football or whatever it is, we’re humans and we have — we have the same struggles that everyone else has.

It’s just our life is in the limelight and that even adds another stress in life.”

“I hope people watching my episode are inspired by it,” he said. “If they are going through things, that maybe that’s the answer for them, which is going to see a therapist or sports psychologist or helping the next up-and-coming young players that, hey, this is what we do. It really does help.”


Through his last successful year, Clark has talked about the complex relationship he has with ambition.

Going into tournaments focused on winning? That’s out.

“Yeah, I haven’t really thought about the total number of wins or any of that,” he said during the Genesis Open, held at Riviera Country Club, the site of his 2023 U.S. Open victory.

“I really try not to think about winning. I think when I first got on Tour that’s all I thought about and I didn’t win.

Now I try to not think about winning and I’m winning, so I’m going to try to keep that trend going.”

But at the same time – most vocally during the Ryder Cup – Clark says his ambition is real: he thinks he can be the best golfer on earth. And he wants that.

“I don’t want to put a limit to myself,” he said in LA. “I would love to try to get to No. 1 player in the world. I don’t know when that’s going to happen if it will happen, but I do know if I continue to do the things that make me successful, I think that’s — there’s a chance that that could happen.

“I’m just going to continue to focus on my process, which is focus on that mental game, working hard in the gym and working hard on the range and then hoping that results in good results, which ultimately gets me to where I want to be in the world.”

And for at least one week later this month, that place is Augusta, Ga.

It’s a visit he has earned.

MASTERS 2024 | APRIL 11-14
This year’s field will again include the best in the world – Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and many more. Wyndham Clark will be one of 11 first-timers, alongside fellow world Top-10ish player Ludvig Aberg.
How to Watch:
• Stream the tournament for free from Masters.com or the Masters app
• On-air, the first two rounds will be on ESPN beginning at 1 p.m. each day. Saturday and Sunday rounds will be on CBS beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday, the 14th. All times are Mountain Time.

How to Follow: @TheMasters feed is on X, Facebook and TikTok


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Jim Bebbington is the Director of Content at Colorado AvidGolfer. Contact him at [email protected]