It was a dream ending in Hollywood for Wyndham Clark on Sunday, as the 29-year-old edged Rory McIlroy by one stroke to win the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.
Clark’s clutch pars on the final two holes secured the victory in just his seventh major start, as McIlroy was unable to make a birdie on the back nine to force a playoff.
Scottie Scheffler was once again a factor in a major, as the World No. 1 fired an even-par 70 to finish in third place. Third-round co-leader Rickie Fowler struggled in the final round, ending up with a 5-over 75 to finish five shots off the pace.
|PLACE||PLAYER||TOTAL TO PAR||ROUND 4 SCORE|
|T5||Min Woo Lee||-5||67|
An incredibly dramatic back nine featured Clark taking a three-stroke lead to the 15th tee, but back-to-back bogeys shrunk the advantage to one with two holes to play.
After missing the green on the par-4 17th, Clark played a brilliant pitch to tap-in range for a clutch par save heading to the final hole. Following a safe approach to the last green, Clark two-putted from 60 feet to secure his second PGA TOUR win in just over a month and his first career major.
A jubilant Clark admitted afterward that closing out the tournament wasn’t as easy as he made it look.
“The hardest thing. This is where the game is so mental because your mind starts to race,” Clark told reporters, according to ASAP Sports. “Obviously, you turn, and it’s like, man, I should be at 12 or 13, and I should have a two- or three-shot lead. Then I’m almost eagling, birdie 14; it’s like I’ve got a three-shot lead. All I’ve got to do is coast in, and then you make a couple bogeys. So it’s so mental because you have to keep your mind present. The minute you get ahead or behind, you feel like you make mistakes, especially at this level.”
It’s another Sunday disappointment for McIlroy, who once again was done in during the final round of a major by his inability to hole putts. The four-time major champion was 57th in strokes gained: putting on the day, failing to make anything longer than 7 feet over the 18 holes.
McIlroy’s struggles on faster greens at LACC over the weekend were clear, with him losing more strokes with the putter each day of the event. He struck the ball well throughout the round, giving himself plenty of chances to make a run.
“Not doing a lot wrong, but I didn’t make a birdie since the first hole today. Just trying to be a little more, I guess, efficient with my opportunities and my looks,” McIlroy said. “Overall, when you’re in contention going into the final round of a U.S. Open, I played the way I wanted to play. There was just a couple shots, two or three shots over the course of the round that I’d like to have back.”
It was also a rough day for Fowler, who immediately struggled out of the gates at LACC, bogeying three of his first seven holes. While he did end up breaking the record for most birdies in a U.S. Open with 23 total, he also carded the most bogeys of any player in the field that made the cut.
“I just didn’t have it today,” Fowler said. “Iron play was very below average and didn’t make anything. That’s a big thing in majors, especially on a Sunday. Making putts and kind of keeping it fairly stress-free. It was kind of the opposite. I was kind of fighting it all day.”
While Sunday didn’t go McIlroy’s or Fowler’s way, their games are certainly trending in the right direction, with one major left on the 2023 calendar. That would be the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool – a venue where McIlroy won and Fowler finished second the last time it hosted the event.
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