Wyndham Clark “steamed” at Arnold Palmer Invitational, bounces back

Wyndham Clark woke up Saturday morning with a share of the lead, but after playing just one hole at Bay Hill, he had fallen two strokes behind the pace.

He opened the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a double bogey at the first hole, thanks to a poor drive and a series of mishaps around the green.

But like he has done so many times over the past 12 months, Clark bounced back with birdies at the third and the sixth.

Suddenly, he was back in contention, jockeying for position at 7-under.

And then he arrived at the par-4 9th, the most challenging hole on the course.

“The one that really got me mad was on 9,” Clark explained.

“I missed the fairway by three yards, have a terrible lie, chip out to right in the middle of a really tough divot from 20 yards. Then, my emotions got to me. I shouldn’t have made double there; should have just been a bogey.”

After hitting his third shot, Clark slammed his wedge into the turf, making an already large divot even bigger.

He then walked off the ninth green seething. He recorded two doubles on his opening side to go out in 2-under 38.

But once again, Clark showed incredible resilience on the back nine.

“Coming off the double on 9, I was pretty steamed,” Clark added.

“But, really, I just went back to the things that make me successful and went back to my process goals for the day. The good thing is I did make that double on the 9th hole, so I had a long walk to the 10th, and I was able to collect myself and focus, and then I rattled off [two] birdies in a row.”

Clark stripped a 3-wood off the 10th tee and then hit a wedge to three feet for a tap-in birdie.

Wyndham Clark, PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer Invitational

Wyndham Clark lines up a putt during the third round of the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On the next hole, the tough par-4 11th, Clark hit a gorgeous drive right down the middle of the fairway.

“Eleven is one of those really tough tee shots,” Clark explained.

“If you pull it off, it becomes a birdie hole. I hit it in the fairway and had a sand wedge in. I didn’t hit my best wedge shot, but I had about a 15-footer and made an awesome putt there.”

Then, at the par-5 12th, Clark made an impressive eagle—one day after making an inexplicable bogey on the same hole.

“The hardest fairway to hit on the course was 12, but, fortunately, we had wind down off the left,” Clark added.

“I hit a good drive, and I had a 5-iron in. I hit a fantastic shot and made the putt. So, really, it was just good execution and a wind that was favorable for those three holes.”

In a span of four holes, Clark went from slamming the turf and sitting at 5-under for the championship to seizing control of the tournament at 9-under.

He recollected himself and bounced back, and it paid off.

Clark then made five pars in a row before some controversy ensued on the par-4 18th.

The 2023 U.S. Open champion missed the fairway to the right, as his ball nestled in the deep rough. He then placed his wedge behind the ball and felt the turf with his club, which caused the ball to move subtly. But as the NBC broadcast explained—and rightfully so—the ball never left its position and, therefore, was deemed a legal address from Clark.

PGA Tour officials confirmed this with Clark, and Scottie Scheffler, his playing partner, after the round.

Still, Clark could not save par after hitting his second shot short of the green at 18.

“I’m bummed I missed a couple coming in on the last few holes, especially the one on 18,” Clark said.

“But it is so difficult out there. There’s not much turf on [the greens]. They’re rolling so fast. With that said, I didn’t think anyone was going to run away with it, and even if someone did, I don’t really scoreboard-watch. It’s just so difficult and too hard to run away with it. I knew if I stayed around par today I would have a good chance tomorrow.”

Clark shot a 1-under 71, and given the circumstances—the weather, the green speeds, his headspace, and his prior disdain for Bay Hill—he had an impressive third round.

Now he enters Sunday trailing Scheffler and Shane Lowry by a single stroke with all of the confidence in the world.

“Confidence is really good,” Clark said.

“The nice thing is I’ve always been a good green reader; I just haven’t been starting it online the last year or two. Now, I’m starting to consistently start it online and making putts, so it’s been fun.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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