PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Following his U.S. Open win last June, Wyndham Clark revealed his new life mantra that helped him conquer LACC: play cocky. He’s doing that yet again this week at the 2024 Players Championship, where consecutive rounds of 65 have given him a five-shot lead heading into the weekend.

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It’s that same self belief that led to what has to be his cockiest move ever, one he copped to on Friday afternoon following his second round. Prior to his U.S. Open victory in 2023, Clark had only played in six major championships, none of them the Masters at Augusta National. Up until last week, Clark had never even stepped foot on the grounds of ANGC. 

But he finally saw it on a scouting trip ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he’ll get to see plenty more of it when he tees it up in his first Masters in April. Believe it or not, though, Clark was afforded the opportunity to see the iconic Alister MacKenzie design before he had ever qualified. He passed up the offer … twice. 

Yes, you read that correctly. Before you break out your torches and pitchforks for this crime against humanity, allow him to explain. 

“I have had two opportunities to go prior to that,” Clark said. “And I kind of made a little pact with myself that I wouldn’t go until I was eligible to play in the tournament.” 

Bold. Bold bold bold. One more time, in bold, BOLD. 

While us mere mortals would likely never be invited back if we turned down a trip to Augusta National, a player of Clark’s caliber knew he could treat ANGC like the Stanley Cup. Don’t touch it, don’t even look at it, until you actually climb that mountaintop. The discipline that must have taken is hard to fathom. 

Sounds like it was well worth waiting for, too. 

“It was a really cool trip because I went with my dad and brother,” he said. “They have never been and so we went and had an awesome kind of Clark boys trip and it was very memorable.

“It’s something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.”

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This article was originally published on golfdigest.com