Getting Acclimated

Denver native Wyndham Clark earns tie in Ryder Cup debut for the Americans on a Friday they go winless; U.S. trails 6.5-1.5 after day 1, but 20 matches remain

By Gary Baines – 9/29/2023

Wyndham Clark gave his putter a kiss on the 13th green at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome on Friday afternoon. 

The Denver native certainly was in love with how his flat stick was performing in his first match ever at the Ryder Cup. And for good reason.

In the first Ryder Cup since 1991 that featured a Colorado high school graduate among the competitors, the 2023 U.S. Open champion made six birdies in a nine-hole stretch in the middle of his four-ball match with teammate Max Homa. That included draining back-to-back 26-footers for birdie on 12 and 13. And none of those six birdies was of the conceded variety. Clark would add a seventh birdie when he two-putted No. 16.

But although the Americans were 2 up through 16 holes on Friday, they walked off the course with a tie with Europeans Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre. The Euros won No. 17 with a par, then 18 with a birdie as Rose sank a 9-foot putt to tie the match. 

Clark hit a 342-yard drive down the middle of the fairway on the par-5 final hole, but a flared second shot and a pitch that went through the game resulted in no better than a par, and Homa missed a 12-foot birdie try to win the match.

After the Americans were swept in the Friday morning foursomes matches — when Clark didn’t play — they emerged from day 1 of the three-day event trailing 6.5-1.5.

The defending champs from the U.S. will need to capture 12 1/2 of the remaining 20 points to retain the cup — and 13 or more to win the competition outright this year.

Clark pitching to the green from right of the 18th hole on Friday.

Clark didn’t finish Friday’s four-ball round the way he’d like — he bogeyed 17 and couldn’t make birdie or better on 18 after having just 247 yards left — from the fairway — for his second shot on the par-5. But he played well most of the day and he joined Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth as the only Americans not to suffer a loss on Friday as all three went 0-0-1.

Clark made the first birdie of his Ryder Cup career on No. 5, where he converted a 3 1/2-footer. But that seemed to open the floodgates for the winner of the 2010 CGA Amateur and the 2017 Pac-12 titles — both at Boulder Country Club. 

Clark added birdies on No. 7 (5 feet), 9 (2 putt), 11 (2 putt), 12 (26 feet), 13 (26 feet) and 16 (2 putt).

“We played good. Max and I played nice,” the product of Valor Christian and Cherry Hills Country Club said. “Prior to hole 15, I didn’t make any bogeys, and we didn’t have any bogeys on the card, so that was unfortunate” to make better-ball bogeys on 15 and 17.

“But we played good the whole day. We made a birdie (on 16) and had huge momentum going into 17. We just didn’t get the job done the last two holes.”

Europe’s Justin Rose reacts to sinking a birdie on 18 that tied the match with Clark and fellow American Max Homa.

Team-wise for the Americans, the plan is to hopefully turn the tide ASAP.

“We definitely need a better day than today,” the 29-year-old Clark said. “We need to kind of flip it and put it in our favor. … But we have a tall task in front of us.”

Clark won’t play in Saturday morning’s foursomes/alternate shot session, but there’s a good chance he’ll tee it up in Saturday afternoon’s four-ball, which will start at 4:25 a.m. (MT). 

To follow results from the Ryder Cup, CLICK HERE.

TV Schedule for Remainder of Ryder Cup

Saturday (foursomes and four-ball)

     11:30 p.m. (Friday)-1 a.m. (Saturday), USA

     1-10 a.m., NBC and Peacock

Sunday (singles)

      3:30-11 a.m., NBC and Peacock

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. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates