March 28, 2024

US Open champion in race to be fit for The Masters after back problem | Golf | Sport

Rory McIlroy’s golf rival and fellow major winner Wyndham Clark has had his dreams of competing in The Masters next month put into question due to a serious injury.

The current US Open champion has shared that he’s struggling with a concerning back issue ahead of the Houston Open at Memorial Park on Thursday. This week, the 30 year old could only practice his chipping and putting.

Clark kicked off the season with a win at the ATandT Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, which was shortened due to rain. He then secured second place twice, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players.

The late-bloomer caused a huge stir in golf last year when he appeared to call out McIlroy after joining the elite bracket of major winners, by expressing his belief that he was better than the Northern Irishman during an interview with Golf Channel.

After rising to fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking, the three-time PGA Tour winner is preparing for his first appearance at The Masters at Augusta National next month.

Most bookmakers have priced Clark at 25/1 for the year’s first major, placing him 10th in the betting. However, they will be closely watching his performance at the Memorial Park Golf Course in Texas this week to see how his body copes over four rounds.

Despite his back issue, Clark remains hopeful after bringing in his medical team. But fans are likely worried that he won’t be at his best when The Masters starts in just two weeks.

“I threw [my back] out,” Clark revealed on Wednesday. “I was in pretty bad shape yesterday, but luckily, I have a fantastic team that has helped me to be able to swing and hit.

The American star arrived early on Wednesday morning, in order to get some extra preparation under way.

He added: “I could only really chip and putt, then I did a lot of rehab and I was able to hit balls today. So just in a short time I’ve improved a lot and I think I’ll be ready for tomorrow.”

Clark has quickly become one of the top players on the PGA Tour over the last year.

He was a highly-rated talent when he first joined the tour in 2018, but it took him a while to find his feet at this level. However, he put everything together in 2023 and made his breakthrough with an impressive four-shot win at the Wells Fargo Championship in May.

Just over a month later, he was the US Open champion, beating McIlroy by one shot at Los Angeles Country Club.

He finished third in the FedEx Cup and earned a spot in the United States Ryder Cup team, scoring 1.5 points from three matches in a losing effort in Rome.

Clark has shown that his success was not a one-off with a strong start to 2024, and aside from his injury worry he is pleased with how his game is progressing.

The US Open winner added: “I’ve been playing some good golf coming off two second-places, and if you take Scottie Scheffler out of the field I might have two wins, so I’ve played really well and I feel good about my game.”


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