Still Red-Hot

For 3rd time in last 5 PGA Tour rounds, Wyndham Clark holds lead; at Players Championship, Denver native uses more stellar putting to build big advantage after going 65-65

By Gary Baines – 3/15/2024

When Wyndham Clark was asked about Scottie Scheffler on Sunday after the latter ran away for a five-stroke victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Denver native said, “It would be borderline unfair if he starts putting really good. I never want to wish ill on anybody, but if he starts putting positive each week, it’s going to be really hard to beat.”

But, as it turns out, the same can be said about Clark, the 2010 CGA Amateur champion who’s a very good ball striker and has become a stellar putter.

Last month, Clark sank a jaw-dropping 215 feet worth of putts — including a long one off the fringe, which doesn’t technically count toward the official length total, but they were all putter strokes — en route to a course-record 60 that led to victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. 

Friday at the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra, Fla., didn’t nearly reach that level of flatstick proficiency, but a second straight round of 7-under-par 65 yielded six putts made between 9 and 22 feet. That left him first in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting in round 2. The bottom line is that Clark’s 14-under-par total — one off the 36-hole record for this event — gave him a four-stroke lead at the halfway point of this prestigious championship. Xander Schauffele and Nick Taylor are his closest pursuers.

This is “better than expected, to be honest,” Clark told Golf Channel on Friday. “I was really in a good zone out there. I’m really pleased — and a little bit shocked — to be where I’m at right now.

“I haven’t had my best at this course in previous years. I’m playing really good golf and I feel comfortable out there. It’s hard to follow up a 7 under the first day with another one. To be where I’m at is awesome.” 

Wyndham Clark will be looking for his fourth PGA Tour win in the last year.

Clark, along with Viktor Hovland the only players on the PGA Tour with three wins in the last year, will look to add to that total this weekend. And mind you, in Clark’s case that includes a U.S. Open victory. After a runner-up finish on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Clark is ranked a career-best fifth in the world.

“When I switched to the putter I’ve been using, that (Odyssey) Jailbird, I started really seeing a lot of putts go in,” Clark said on Friday. “And then all the work that I did off the course in my mental game (with sports psychologist Julie Elion), I started seeing it on the course because I started making putts. So that’s probably the biggest thing is a combining the mental game with making putts and now I’ve been shooting some good scores.”

Indeed, Clark has now led or shared the lead after three of the last five PGA Tour rounds he’s played as he was tied for the top spot after round 2 of last week’s API and after day 1 this week.

At the Players, Clark’s 130 total — his personal best through two rounds on the PGA Tour — is one-stroke off the record 36-hole total in tournament history.

Clark was even par for the day through seven holes on Friday, but his second straight birdie on the treacherous par-3 17th hole (his eighth of the day) led to him playing his final 11 holes in 7 under. 

“More than anything I’m just super excited that I kind of had a ho-hum front nine and then turned and really just got into a nice zone and felt really good on the greens and shot an awesome number (on his back nine, the front at TPC Sawgrass).”

For all the scores from the Players, 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