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Look at the picture above. That’s how close Wyndham Clark came to forcing a playoff at The PLAYERS.

The US Open champion’s birdie effort at the 72nd hole would have taken the championship into extra holes had it dropped fully into the hole.

Instead, it horseshoed out in agonising fashion to make world No.1 Scottie Scheffler the first player to successfully defend the title in the 50-year history of the event.

Clark, who held at least a share of the lead at TPC Sawgrass after each of the first two days, went into the final round trailing by one.

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He found himself two adrift of the clubhouse lead set by an inspired Scheffler as he walked onto the 17th tee. After drilling his tee shot to eight feet, he converted the birdie opportunity and hit the green in regulation at the last to give himself a chance to force the championship into a playoff.

His 16-foot birdie putt up the hill from the front of the green looked certain to drop until it viciously lipped out, handing the win to Scheffler.

Watch it here:

“I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in,” sighed Clark afterwards. “It was kind of right centre with like a foot to go, and I knew it was going to keep breaking, but it had speed and I thought it was going to good inside left, and even when it kind of lipped, I thought it would lip in. I’m pretty gutted it didn’t go in.

“Obviously, there’s positives. You finish second, you get a bunch of points and money and all that stuff, but it just sucks. I’ve always wanted and dreamt about making a putt that really mattered to either force a playoff or win a tournament, and I have yet to do it in my professional career, so I was pretty bummed that I didn’t have one of those really awesome moments.

“I don’t know, I’m still a little beside myself. I’m still shocked that putt didn’t go in.”

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Clark’s disappointment was in stark contrast to Scheffler’s delight as the Texan backed up his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week to cement his status as the most dominant player in the game right now.

Dating back to January 1, 2022, he has nine wins in 51 starts, 22 top-3 finishes, 34 top-10s and only three missed cuts. He is a combined 540-under-par and has banked $46.3million.

And he did it all this week with a neck injury that almost forced him to withdraw early in the championship.

“I’m a pretty competitive guy, and I didn’t want to give up on the tournament,” he said. “I did what I could to hang around until my neck got better. Today, it felt really good.

“Being at the top of the leaderboard last week and this week, it’s a real test mentally and physically. This week was a physical test, as well, just with how my neck was Friday and Saturday. I put a lot into trying to win this golf tournament, so it’s very it’s very satisfying to be walking out of here with the trophy.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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