Ever So Solid

Runner-up finish at Arnold Palmer Invite gives Denver native Wyndham Clark his 8th top-6 showing of the last year; Coloradan Martin Laird scores back-to-back top-10s on PGA Tour

By Gary Baines – 3/10/2024

It isn’t often that two golfers with strong Colorado connections post top-10 finishes on the same day on the PGA Tour. 

But on Sunday, it happened for the second time in 2024 — after impending Colorado Golf Hall of Fame inductee Wyndham Clark won and fellow Denver native Mark Hubbard placed fourth last month in the weather-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Clark was involved this time, too, as he placed second — albeit a very distant runner-up — at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, while Denver-area resident Martin Laird tied for 10th in the Puerto Rico Open.

To show how much Clark has improved as a player in recent years, compare how he’s fared competing at one of the tougher venues on the PGA Tour, Bay Hill, for the Arnold Palmer Invite.

The Denver native played there three times from 2020 through 2023 and shot a cumulative 26 over par in 10 rounds, with no score in the 60s.

This week — after three victories in the last year, including one at the U.S. Open — the Valor Christian graduate was better than almost everyone at Bay Hill. We emphasize ALMOST because the world’s top-ranked player, Scottie Scheffler, was in a class of his own in Sunday’s final round en route to his second API victory in three years. His bogey-free 66 in the final round gave him a five-stroke win over Clark.

As for Clark, he went 10 under par overall this time round in recording his runner-up finish. The 30-year-old recorded scores of 71-66-71-70 — a far cry from that 26 over in his previous 10 rounds at Bay Hill.

“I’m super pleased,” he said Sunday. “Obviously coming up short is always a bummer. I have not always loved this golf course and haven’t played well here and I said to myself this week, even coming into the weekend, a top 5 or top 10 here would just be huge for me. So I think it’s just a testament to where my game is at and how much I’ve grown.”

Clark remembered earlier this week that after his first trip to the API, he thought, “I don’t think I’m ever coming back. I wouldn’t have come back, but it’s a signature event and hard to turn down coming to an event like this with all the best players. So last year I played it and honestly, I really didn’t have high expectations going into last year. I hit it really good and found myself kind of in the top 20 and I said, ‘Okay, our game’s progressed where I feel like I can play here.’ So I kind of carried the same mentality into this week, and honestly, for me, making the cut and to be where I’m at is a win on a course that maybe traditionally hasn’t been my favorite.”

It was Clark’s second top-2 finish in four signature events this year. Since this time last year, he owns a remarkable eight top-six finishes on the PGA Tour overall, including the aforementioned three victories.

Clark, the seventh-ranked golfer in the world coming into the week, earned $2.2 million for Sunday’s second-place finish. (Note: He rose to a career-best fifth in the world in the wake of the API.)

The 2010 CGA Amateur champion birdied his opening hole on Sunday to tie for the lead, but after he bogeyed 2 and Scheffler birdied No. 1 behind him, it was all Scheffler from there on it. The Texan, finding his putting form with a new mallet, was rock solid all day Sunday.

For all the scores from the API, CLICK HERE.

Meanwhile, each of the past four seasons on the PGA Tour, Laird has managed just one top-10 finish. 

But in the last seven days, the former Colorado State University golfer has two to his credit.

Less than a week after tying for ninth place in the Cognizant Classic, the 41-year-old shared 10th place on Sunday in the Puerto Rico Open.

The back-to-back top-10s were Laird’s first on the PGA Tour since July 2019, when he backed up a sixth place at the Barbasol Championship with a seventh at the Barracuda Championship.

Laird, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, went 67-68-70-68 for a 15-under-par total in Puerto Rico, which left him four strokes behind the winner. The Scotsman has posted scores in the 60s seven times in eight tries over the last two weeks.

Sunday’s 10th-place performance was worth $97,000 for Laird. It was his second top-10 showing at the Puerto Rico Open in the 2020s as he tied for sixth in 2020.

For the scores from Puerto Rico, CLICK HERE.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates