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US Open 2024: Mental health key as ‘80% of players storm off’, says champion Wyndham Clark

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Despite his recent form Clark has climbed from 10th to fourth in the world rankings in 2024

  • Author, Peter Scrivener
  • Role, BBC Sport Senior Journalist

Golfers need to be better at checking on each other’s wellbeing given “80% of players storm off” unhappy with their rounds, says Wyndham Clark, who will defend his US Open title at Pinehurst this week.

Mental health has become a key focus since 30-year-old Grayson Murray walked off midway through a PGA Tour event last month and took his own life the next day.

“That’s a sad and tragic situation that happened,” said Clark of Murray, who had well-documented issues with alcoholism, anxiety and depression.

“The unfortunate thing for what we do is it is so lonely and it’s very difficult.

“I’ve been in many low spots where you have some negative thoughts which you don’t ever want to have.”

And while he accepts there are “unlimited resources” to help golfers on tour, rather than just saying “how are you playing”, Clark wants players and caddies to be asking of each other: “how are you doing?”

“That’s more maybe on the players to take initiative to do that,” the world number four added.

Clark, who held off Rory McIlroy in Los Angeles to win his first major by one shot in 2023, is determined to not put too much pressure on himself this week.

The 30-year-old American won at Pebble Beach in February and finished runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship in March.

But since then his form has tailed off, with three missed cuts in his past five events, including at both majors – the Masters and US PGA Championship.

“I haven’t been playing my best golf. It’s been kind of a tough stretch these past few weeks,” he said. “It’s challenging, frustrating.

“I’m just trying to gain some momentum. I know that maybe sounds like low expectations but I’d love to just gain some momentum for the rest of the season.”

Clark said “working on his expectations” are key to his own mental wellbeing.

“Too often players, including myself, get tied up so much in score and outcome, and the game of golf is so frustrating and so hard,” he added.

“There are those really lonely times when you miss the cut, you throw your clubs in the car, you drive off, and you’re [angry].

“On TV they typically show the guys playing great, the game seems awesome. In reality I’d say 80% of the field storms off after a lot of the rounds.

“That’s just the nature of our game. That’s why it is such a mental game. I’ve learned that there are so many different skill levels out here, and the difference between the guys that really make it and enjoy the game have a long career, they’re just better mentally than everyone.”

Follow live text coverage of all four rounds of the US Open from 12:30 BST on Thursday, with radio commentary of the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday on the BBC Sport website and app and BBC Sounds. Full details here.

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