CROMWELL, Connecticut – Only four days after his U.S. Open victory at Los Angeles Country Club, Wyndham Clark is visiting New England this weekend, not as a tourist, but rather a bona fide star on the PGA Tour.
Teeing it up at TPC River Highlands in round one of the Travelers Championship, it didn’t take long for him to feel different than he has during any other tournament of his career. With high recognition factor, Clark said he had low expectations, while no player flashed more smiles or enjoyed the day more, except maybe Keegan Bradley who lit up the par 70 course with a blistering score of 29-33-62, 8-under par, or Denny McCarthy who posted 30-30-60, 10-under par.
“I definitely was a little less stressed or anxious today than I think I normally would be to start a tournament,” Clark said. “I was more relaxed. I didn’t have much expectations, which was really nice. And then obviously the fan interaction was great. We went off early, which normally when I’m going off on a Thursday that early there is hardly any fans watching me and there as of decent amount, so that was kind of nice.”
On the first tee Clark was announced as the “U.S. Open champion” at his 7:35 a.m. tee time along with Justin Thomas and Max Homa. on a day of low scoring he took some playful ribbing from Thomas and received plenty of crowd support throughout the day on his way to a opening-round 2-under 68.
“Every hole they were saying ‘The champ’s here,’ and ‘Congrats,'” Clark said of the fans. People know my name now, which is nice. Four or five years ago they didn’t know who I am. So it’s been an amazing day.”
Since beating Rory McIlroy and the best players in the world to win the U.S. Open it’s been a whirlwind week for Clark, with little sleep and no time to prepare. Clark said he’s been shocked by some of the “influential” people he’s received calls and texts from. His Tuesday media tour of New York City included stops at the “Today” show and “Good Morning America.”
In a post round interview Clark said he’s enjoying his new found fame, and just as important, the huge deposits made to his bank account in recent weeks. In addition to the U.S. Open and $3.6 million winner’s check, Clark won another designated event at the Wells Fargo Championship last month, bringing his winnings over the past six weeks to $7.6 million after earning only $2.6 million over the previous six years.
“No, hasn’t hit me yet,” Clark said. “I’m still kind of on the high. I’m sure as the week goes on it might hit me, but fortunately I have two week off after this to get refreshed and ready for the rest of the year.”
After day one, Clark is still within the projected cut line but will need at least another 2-under 68 to make it into the weekend. Flashing his trademark ear-to-ear smile, he is obviously enjoying every minute of his victory lap.