Oregon's Wyndham Clark
(January 31, 2017) -- Wyndham Clark is only going to be at Oregon for one year but he is certainly doing his best to leave a mark. After transferring from Oklahoma State following the 2015-2016 season, Clark joined the defending national champions and he has made an immediate impact. In three events during the fall Clark never finished worse than tied for sixth and so far this spring he has been even better, picking up his first individual and team win as a Duck at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
"(The win) was huge for me, felt like all the work I've put in is starting to pay off," Clark said. "I've had a lot of adversity in my college career and it's nice to finally experience being in the winners circle. I'm going to enjoy the win but I'm also eager to get more."
Following his redshirt junior season at Oklahoma State Clark felt as if his game wasn't where he wanted it to be and he decided to transfer. During his time at Oklahoma State Clark had often been a standout performer and after redshirting as a freshman, Clark was named the Big 12 Player of the Year the next year.
"I mainly (transferred) because I wanted to go somewhere and get my game really ready for professional golf and I didn’t feel like I was maximizing my potential in the current situation."
Clark put together a list of schools but ultimately he couldn't pass up an opportunity to play for Casey Martin and the defending national champions. "It was perfect timing," Clark, who plans on turning professional after the end of the college season, said. "Casey Martin was on my list from the beginning and when they won nationals it made my decision that much easier."
And the transition has been nearly seamless. "I didn’t really know how I would be accepted by the guys but they have really accepted me and they made it an easy transition and then the coaches did the same thing," he said.
Almost immediately after committing to Oregon the Denver, CO native began to see improvements in his game. Motivated by being left off the Oklahoma State postseason roster last year, Clark attacked his summer workouts with extra vigor. "That was definitely a low point for me," Clark admitted. "It was tough not going because I love to compete and I felt like I should have been there."
Over the summer Clark, a redshirt senior, got back together with his old trainer to get his body back in shape while also teaming up with new swing coach Jeff Smith.
It was that partnership, fostered by Casey Martin, that proved to be a momentous moment for Clark. "I had a very good swing coach prior to that in Craig Koy and he was awesome for me," Clark acknowledged. "But I felt like I needed a little bit of help with the driver and I thought that Jeff (Smith) could really help me out with that and since then my game has been getting better."
That improvement was on full display last August when he impressed at the U.S. Amateur and set the stage for things to come. Clark began his week at Oakland Hills Country Club with two strong rounds of stroke-play and earned the seven-seed before bowing out in a tough 2&1 Round of 32 loss to Jimmy Stanger.
However, the biggest impact on Clark since coming to Eugene has been his new head coach. Martin, who played with Tiger Woods at Stanford and on the PGA Tour, has helped Clark in nearly every aspect of the game and the improvement has been on full display.
Martin introduced Clark to Trackman which he mentioned "helps with my practice structure and pinpointing what I really need to work on", along with understanding ball flight. When it comes to tournaments, Clark said of Martin, "He really helps with course strategy, course management and mind stuff."
When you step back and look at the heights that Clark has reached in just one semester at Oregon, it is quite remarkable. Unfazed by the pressure of stepping into the reigning national champions line up, he has rediscovered the form that previously had made him one of the top junior players in the country and the top player in the Big 12.
"For the team, the first goal is to win Pac-12’s and then the next goal is to get to nationals and then try and win the national championship," a determined sounding Clark said.
"Individually I just want to get better and improve and let my game get to the best it can be and then the results take care of themselves. I’m really focused on my process and looking long term. In the mean time if there is success then that is great but I am really just trying to use every day and every tournament to get myself better and better and also prepare myself for my professional career."