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April 9, 2024

Wyndham Clark

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to welcome Wyndham Clark to his first Masters Tournament. Thank you for joining us. Wyndham, congratulations, what an incredible year you've had, including winning the 2023 U.S. Open Championship. And you're a rare case of someone who has already won a major championship yet will be debuting here in the Masters Tournament. What are some of your initial impressions of Augusta National ahead of your first tournament?

WYNDHAM CLARK: Well, it lives up to all the hype, that's for sure. I've always dreamt about this place, and I've watched pretty much every Masters since I was, I don't know, probably five years old. So to finally be here and to experience it in person is pretty spectacular.

And, yeah, it's living up to the hype. So I'm really hoping that I bring my game this week and really get to enjoy everything that Augusta National and the Masters Tournament has to offer.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks. We're going to open it up to some questions.

Q. Does the fact that a first-timer hasn't won here since '79, is that extra motivation? Like are you the type of guy to hear that stat and makes you want to win it even more?

WYNDHAM CLARK: Yeah, I mean, that's -- yeah, I mean, stats like that are meant to be broken. So I know it's a tall task. It's a challenging golf course. There's a bunch of good golfers. With that said, you still have to match -- you have to still bring your game. So it's not like you can just flip a switch and win it.

But, yeah, that would be an amazing accomplishment. And I like my chances. I really like myself on this golf course. I feel good on a lot of tee shots and approaches, and there's so much creativity. So I feel good coming into the week.

Q. Two things. Update on how your back's feeling? And then we know you kind of waited to come here and finally see the golf course. What would you say has maybe caught you by surprise or is different than what you expected and how it plays?

WYNDHAM CLARK: So first question, the back, it's good. It was just -- I mean I simply blew it out, I or threw it out, not blew it out, threw it out in the gym. And it was just one of those muscle things, and it was painful. But fortunately I got a great team around me, and they got me to be able to play only two and a half, three days later, which was pretty remarkable. As I got to Saturday, Sunday of that event, I started feeling more normal. And then last week I was able to swing. So back's good.

What was your second part of the question?

Q. Golf course, just kind of what's different than what maybe you expected or any surprises, knowing you've watched it for a long time, but now finally having come here and played it?

WYNDHAM CLARK: Let's see. I think how open some of the holes are. When you get to hole 9 and 18, just how it's wide open and it's not all in the trees. That's probably one.

Then I would just say the difference that you -- come tournament week, how firm and fast the greens are versus when you come here six, eight weeks ago and it's nice and receptive. That's a little bit of a difference.

But the good thing is I've had so many guys tell me all about it, the undulations and the greens, and you hear so much as a pro and people talking about it in weeks leading up to the Masters and after the Masters that they talk about it. So I've always kind of heard those little tidbits.

So I wasn't too shocked of anything. It's just more of being here and just enjoying everything that Augusta National has to offer.

Q. The next month you'll defend for the first time. So a year ago you hadn't won, and since then you've done a ton. So to go from where you were, whether it was self-defeating or whether it was fight or flight and you would flight as opposed to fight, how have you flipped the script? What have you done to go from somebody who had immense talent to somebody who now has refined skill and belief?

WYNDHAM CLARK: That means a lot of hard work. It wasn't as simple as just flipping a switch and being able to start winning tournaments. I put a lot of time and effort in both the physical part and the mental part of the game.

In a short time of a year, I find myself with three wins and going from being a nobody to somewhat of a somebody. So it's been an amazing 12 months, and I'm really looking forward to the next 12 months. So, you know, I just put -- I chalk it up to just a lot of hard work on the mental game.

Q. You mentioned trying to enjoy all the things that Augusta National has to offer, but you're the highest ranked debutant in the history of the tournament. You're No. 4 in the world. You're already a major champion. How are you kind of reconciling trying to enjoy the first experience but obviously expecting a lot out of yourself?

WYNDHAM CLARK: That's a good question. You know, I treat it, honestly, like any other tournament. I mean, I know this is the premier tournament in golf and at the most iconic venue, and, yeah, I would love to have a great week. But at the same time, I am a rookie in this event.

So I'm trying not to put the expectations too high, and I really do just want to enjoy it. My first goal is to be mentally ready for day one. So I'm not thinking about the tournament as a whole, just more focusing on my round one on Thursday and then focus on Friday and Saturday and Sunday.

Q. Usually enjoy playing golf tournaments?

WYNDHAM CLARK: Yeah, I love competing. When I'm home just playing with the guys, if there's not something on the line, my focus isn't there. And I've always really enjoyed competition. And especially at the highest level, it makes me even more focused and kind of brings that excitement level. And that's really why I love the game of golf.

Q. I know you're trying to treat this tournament like any other tournament, but what feels different about the Masters so far compared to any other tournament?

WYNDHAM CLARK: Well, I definitely think the lead-up, before I even got here, it's amazing how just friends and family and random people I see back home in Scottsdale, people just saying, man, good luck at the Masters, and bringing up the Masters, where when I'm going into a regular PGA TOUR event, they're not necessarily saying that. So that's probably the first thing.

Then I just would say that the overall ambiance is amazing here. The patrons are so good at kind of respecting the golf but yet still being great, you know, showing excitement when we hit good shots, but then being respectful when we're playing.

So just you just have this feel when you're at this golf course and at this tournament that is unlike any other.

Q. And do you trick yourself into thinking that it's not a bigger deal than any other tournament, or do you kind of like acknowledge it and take it head on? What's the strategy there?

WYNDHAM CLARK: I mean, it's golf. At the end of the day, it's putting a golf ball in the hole as fast as possible. The good thing is I came and did a couple visits here, and I wanted to try to get the awe of Augusta National kind of out of the way so that, when I showed up this week, it's all business and I can just focus on the golf at hand.

And I've done that well in this last year. And so I know I'm going to have the first tee jitters when I step up on 1 and put the ball on the peg and have to hit it. But I'm really hoping that, when we get to Hole 2 or 3 or 4, I'm pretty relaxed and I just get about my business and do my job.

Q. How many rounds total have you played now here, and when was the last time you anticipated an event as much as you have this one?

WYNDHAM CLARK: So I played four rounds. It was two separate trips. So, yeah, we got about 72 holes in. They were all -- so blessed they were all great weather days. I've heard some stories of guys playing in some pretty severe weather. So I was very blessed to have good weather.

Then, yeah, I mean, I don't think I've ever put so much anticipation into an event. The only thing I could think of is, when I was younger, trying to qualify for my first U.S. Amateur and thinking about it so much and didn't make it three or four times.

And then finally qualifying for the U.S. Amateur and then making it. I built it up a lot, and you're practicing all summer, getting ready for it. So this would be kind of, you know, that was the first one and this is the next one.

But, you know, the one thing I am hoping is that this is one of many Masters. But you always remember your first. And so I'm really soaking it in and enjoying it.

Q. You've done a good bit of winning the last year, and that followed a period of not winning. Is there some aspect of getting it done that feels easier once you've done it that feels simple, that you didn't think was simple beforehand?

WYNDHAM CLARK: Yeah, I think you just learn a lot. I remember my first four or five years on the PGA TOUR I learned all the ways of how not to win and how not to handle myself in pressure moments. As I've now found myself in more of those moments, I feel so much more relaxed. My thoughts are slower. I'm taking everything as it comes.

And I'm also impressing myself too. I'm hitting shots under pressure that maybe I couldn't have done a couple years ago and maybe I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would have been.

So I just think the more and more you're in contention, the more comfortable you get. And I think that's been true for me. I've just gotten to where I embrace moments and love being in those situations.

Q. Sort of a similar question here, but I'm wondering, do you think there's a mental difference between those who are capable of winning major championships and those who are not?

WYNDHAM CLARK: A mental difference?

Q. Yeah.

WYNDHAM CLARK: I would say the toughest thing is it's more -- I mean, yeah, I'm trying to think. I think there's a difference between people that can win consistently on the PGA TOUR and majors and maybe someone that wins every once in a while. I think if you win once every blue moon, I think that's just a great week and you really had everything clicking that week.

But I think to win multiple times and in major, I think that there is a little bit of a mental shift. I'm not saying I know what that shift is, but I know I worked really hard in the mental game. And so when I found myself leading the U.S. Open and then winning a U.S. Open, to me it felt like a regular event.

I think maybe if that's the shift, I think that's what needs to be done. Because I got out there, and I felt really calm and relaxed last year at LACC. So I don't really know the answer to that question, but for me that's kind of the case.

Q. What would be one of your fondest memories of watching the Masters?

WYNDHAM CLARK: I would say probably when Tiger -- I don't know if that was that 2005 when he chipped in and had that epic hole-out on 16, because my dad was here, it was his first Masters he ever attended, and he got to go. And I remember because he was there, I was a little boy, I was trying to see if I could see my dad in the crowd. Then obviously watching the Tournament, and then my favorite player wins the Tournament.

So that's probably the most fond memory. For me, that's right as the golf -- as you're able to play golf in Colorado. So I remember going out and practicing in between kind of when Tiger was teeing off or if there was a lag in the airtime.

So, you know, just those memories are pretty exciting and amazing for me.

Q. As much as your level has risen in the last year, how much away from the course has that kind of changed your life in terms of, okay, now you are a bigger name, you have more obligations, you're doing the Tuesday press conference before a major? I mean, what has that kind of added to this past year?

WYNDHAM CLARK: You know, it's something I've always wanted, and it's something that has always kind of been frustrating for me, having some success in college and thinking that I could maybe have the success right away when I first turned pro and then not having it. That was always frustrating.

Peers of mine and friends of mine would be doing the pressers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays of tournaments and being talked about and all the interviews, and I'm on the range grinding all day and no one knows my name and really cares to know my name.

So now it's nice. It's honestly -- this is more than almost the winning and the -- the winning and anything that comes with that I feel where my place is in the world as far as the golf rankings the most when I have the press releases and things like this because I go, okay, this is where the top players usually are on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

So for me it's exciting. I like doing this stuff because it's something I've worked really hard to get here to do.

Q. Excellent shirt. You don't see that a lot.


Q. I'm wondering, the situation Saturday in the rough at Bay Hill and then you saw it on tape later, did it make you change your approach to how you'll address the ball when it's deep in rough like that?

WYNDHAM CLARK: Yeah, I mean, you know, when we finished that round, we had no idea why the officials were in there. And obviously when you watch the tape, maybe it doesn't look good. I mean, the one thing in my defense is I'm setting the club down, I feel like I have the right and freedom to be able to set the club down where I want. I wasn't trying to improve my lie by any means.

But, yeah, it's definitely something I talked about with my caddie, and he's like, hey, the cameras are on us more. Not that I was doing anything wrong prior to that when the cameras weren't on us, but every little thing we do is magnified when the cameras are on you.

So, yeah, I mean, I maybe now have to be a little more conscious of not putting the club down as much. But, yeah, I mean you just have to really watch what you do under the microscope. And it was unfortunate that it maybe looked poorly on camera, but the one thing is I was laying up, regardless, and I still laid up. So I didn't think I enhanced the lie by any means.

Q. Just going forward, then, do you feel like you would be a little less assertive about putting that club behind the ball, or does it -- did it change anything for you going forward, that experience?

WYNDHAM CLARK: I think that was, you know, a one-off, unique experience. I definitely will, in my mind, go, Okay, I don't want to have any question that I'm trying to do anything that's like cheating or anything illegal. So I will be definitely more aware of it.

But I've been doing what I did for years, and no one's ever called me out on it. So I don't know if I'm necessarily going to change it. I might be just more aware and make sure that the optics also don't look like I'm doing something wrong.

Q. Having played multiple practice rounds now and also watched the Tournament for many years as you've said, do you have any theories about why someone hasn't, so few people have won it on their first try?

WYNDHAM CLARK: I mean, some guys have been close and, I mean, in anyone's defense, it's pretty hard to win in general. I mean, there's guys that have, great players that are out on the PGA TOUR still haven't won, or maybe they have won one time in a 10-year career. So it's very tough just to win in general, let alone in a major where everyone builds it up to be bigger than it is. But with that said, I mean, no one thought I could win the U.S. Open being the first time in contention, so I think things are meant, you know, records or curses or whatever they are, are meant to be broken, and if it's not me this week it could be Ludvig or someone else that does it. I think the guys that are playing professional golf now have gotten so good, and I don't think we really listen and think of those things, we just see the golf ball and put it where we want to put it and wherever, you know, the ball ends up, we go and hit it again and try to win a golf tournament regardless of where we're at.

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Wyndham, thank you. Best of luck this week.

WYNDHAM CLARK: Thanks, guys.

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