Dissecting Wyndham Clark’s U.S. Open win

Wyndham Clark, 123rd U.S. Open,(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Wyndham Clark, 123rd U.S. Open,(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /
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Wyndham Clark, U.S. Open, Los Angeles Country Club, 123rd U.S. Open, Golf
Bryson DeChambeau, U.S. Open, Winged Foot Golf Club /

Where Clark’s victory ranks

Wyndham Clark is such a new talent on Tour that one might not have expected him to rise to historically great performance levels this weekend, and he didn’t. His victory came via a spread of 2.23 standard deviations better than the field average.

You can think of standard deviation as a dominance score: By how wide a margin did the player distance himself from the normal performance of the game’s best players during the week? A score of -2.23 categorizes as toward the low end of the historical norm.

We can get a feel for how Clark’s victory stacks up historically by comparing it with the past decade of U.S. Open champions. In that context, it’s nothing to write home about. From most dominant to least dominant, here’s how the last 10 Open champions have ordered.

                 Player                                 Year          Course               Std. Dev.

1              Martin Kaymer                  2014       Pinehurst            -3.03

2              Bryson DeChambeau      2020       Winged Foot      -2.87

3              Gary Woodland                 2019       Pebble Beach    -2.77

4              Brooks Koepka                  2018       Shinnecock        -2.42

5              Dustin Johnson                 2016       Oakmont            -2.36

6              Brooks Koepka                  2017       Erin Hills             -2.34

7              Jon Rahm                            2021       Torrey Pines      -2.24

8              Wyndham Clark               2023       LACC                    -2.23

9              Jordan Spieth                    2015       Chambers Bay   -2.12

10           Matt Fitzpatrick                2022       Country Club      -2.06

We do seem to be in a window of homogenized performances at the Open. Three of the four least dominant champions of the past decade won their Opens in the past three years: Rahm in 2021, Fitzpatrick last year, and Clark this year.

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This is a recent phenomenon, and not necessarily a trend.  DeChambeau’s victory ranks as the 10th most dominant performance in the entire history of the tournament, Kaymer’s 2014 victory is fifth on that list, and McIlroy’s 2011 win at Congressional ranks second all time.

You can probably guess who’s No. 1…at least you can if you are old enough to remember Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000.