Wyndham Clark updates back injury, talks TGL and SoFi, why he can win The Masters

Wyndham Clark is gearing up for what will be one of the biggest weeks of his life.

Clark is one of 89 men competing at Augusta National in the 88th Masters Tournament later this week. He will be looking for his second major championship in less than a year after capturing the U.S. Open last June.

Before arriving at Augusta, Clark joined SB Nation’s Playing Through for an interview and detailed a wide range of topics, including how his back is feeling, his involvement with SoFi and the TGL, as well as the evolution of his mental game.

Of course, he also provided keen insight into his approach to being a rookie at Augusta National. That has notoriously been a tough spot for anyone.

Clark’s Back Injury a “Just a Muscle Thing”

Clark was playing incredible golf a few weeks ago. He finished runner up to World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler in back-to-back weeks at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players, respectively.

He was heartbreakingly close to forcing a playoff in the latter. An unreal lip-out on 18 left Clark gutted.

Nevertheless, his game was in top form contending with the world’s best.

A day later, Clark injured his back heading into the Texas Children’s Houston Open. He did not play quite as well that weekend. Thankfully, the back injury does not appear as though it will impact him at The Masters.

“I don’t know if you have ever thrown your back out… I was in the gym. I didn’t have anything [wrong] going into the workout. Just out of nowhere it went out. It is just a muscle thing,” Clark said to Playing Through.

“It’s nothing career [threatening]… it sucked it happened Monday of a tournament week. But the great thing was, I was able to play. As the tournament went on, it got better and better.

Texas Children’s Houston Open - Round Three, Wyndham Clark

Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

“As of right now, honestly, I don’t feel anything.”

That sentiment is furthered by his final round 4-under 68 in Houston. That is surely a relief for Clark and all golf fans.

Wyndham’s Role with TGL, SoFi

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s virtual golf league, TGL, is set to debut in January of 2025. It will be held at the SoFi Center on the Palm Beach State College campus.

SoFi is one of the world’s largest online banks, providing financial products including student loan refinancing, mortgages, personal loans, and banking through both mobile app and desktop interfaces.

They are also one of the key partners in helping develop the groundbreaking golf league.

Clark, while playing the Pebble Beach Pro-Am with SoFi CEO Anthony Noto, learned of shared goals and ideals through within the sport of golf. That led to a blossoming relationship landing him an ambassador role and his participation in the virtual golf league.

“We played the first two days together and had a great time. As we progressed through those two days, I really learned a lot about SoFi and what they value and how they go about their business.

“They approached me to help represent the brand and I felt comfortable doing that because of what I learned about the company upon doing my due diligence… I am really excited to be a part of the brand!”

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am - Round Three, Wyndham Clark

Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

He joins a couple other superstar athletes partnering with SoFi, namely Chargers QB Justin Herbert and Celtics SF Jayson Tatum.

“Me being an Oregon Duck and Justin Herbert is a Duck, and Tatum is an amazing basketball player. To be in that group is amazing and help golf growing so much,” Clark said excitedly.

Indeed, SoFi is doing their part helping the game of golf grow to a new, wider and more diverse audience.

The Masters: A Rookie Can Win

Clark is one of 17 rookies in this year’s Masters field.

That generally has not been a great place to be for professional golfers. Only three times in the history of the tournament has a first-timer won. The first two were the first two years of the event in 1934 and 1935.

The only other time was when Fuzzy Zoeller accomplished the feat in 1979.

Yet, Clark has no fear of being a newbie at Augusta National; because he isn’t.

“I think if I played it [Augusta National] cold turkey, I would be at a large disadvantage. But I have played it a total of four times prior to the week of Augusta,” said Clark.

He then made a great point that’s hard to argue as to why he has a shot this week.

“I feel like I have a high golf IQ. Typically we only get to see a golf course a couple times before we tee it up. At the U.S. Open, I only saw it one time before the week. I played nine holes, then nine holes [of practice], and then went and won the tournament.”

The 30-year-old rising star has the ultimate confidence that he can get it done once again.

Clark’s Cerebral Shift

If you have followed Wyndham Clark’s professional career, then you likely have noticed a massive shift.

Prior to 2023, the reigning U.S. Open champion struggled with consistency. He would follow up a solid tournament with a poor showing, a strong round with a subpar one, and even on the micro level, a birdie with a bogey.

That is an element Clark was quite candid about.

“That is something that I struggled the most with prior to this last year and a half. The bounce back ability and to handle the adversity… when you make bogeys or doubles, I used to follow those bogeys and doubles with more bogeys,” Clark admitted.

All of that changed last season.

“I started working with my sports psychologist and working on my self-talk. I created the mentality that it doesn’t matter what just happened, I know I can bounce right back and make birdie. That is something we specifically worked on.”

“If there is any stat that I look at and is a goal… the only result goal I focus on is that bounce back stat.”

The proof is in the pudding, too.

Clark was outside the top 100 in bounce back rate in 2022. He implemented the new strategies that were detailed in Netflix’s Full Swing Season 2, and improved drastically.

Last year, the three-time PGA Tour winner finished the season in the top 10 in bounce back rate. He’s back at it again this year as well.

To put that into context, look no further than his play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard - Final Round, Wyndham Clark

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

During the third round, he was chasing Scottie Scheffler and closed his front nine with a double bogey. The old Clark might have folded and bogeyed the next.

Instead, he went birdie, birdie, eagle to climb right back into contention.

He did the same thing on Sunday. After his second bogey of the day on four, he picked up two straight birdies on five and six. Ultimately, he finished just behind Scheffler in second.

This isn’t just a recent development either.

I spent Saturday and Sunday last June following Clark at the U.S. Open. Throughout the weekend, he was battling Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, two fan favorites, atop the leaderboard. Clark easily outplayed them both to capture his first major championship and showed some real stones down the stretch to do so.

But it was the way that he carried himself that caught my eye. He appeared to have this serene sense of calm mixed with supreme confidence.

That confidence exuded itself as he later exclaimed his belief that he is in fact better than McIlroy.

Of course, most people will dismiss that notion. But in order to be the best, you need to believe you are the best. No fear. No mercy. Take no prisoners and win at all cost.

Those were all mental traits that I picked up from him at Los Angeles Country Club that weekend. If that mentality sounds familiar, that’s because it embodies the late, great Kobe Bryant and was coined the ‘Mamba Mentality.’

Obviously, Clark has a long way to go winning more majors to earn that level of distinction from golf fans. But this new Wyndham Clark we have seen the last 14 months exemplifies the same cerebral approach.

Don’t believe me, just look at the results. The proof, as I say, is in the pudding.

Kendall Capps is the Senior Editor of SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social media platforms.

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