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Wyndham Clark has low expectations about defending his US Open title

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Wyndham Clark has low expectations about defending his US Open title as he struggles to get his game back on track.

The 30-year-old has yet to make a cut in a major this year despite an impressive start which saw him win at Pebble Beach in February and finish runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship the following month.

But in his last six events since mid-March he has three missed cuts with just one top-five finish and he admits world number one Scottie Scheffler – who enters this week off the back of his fifth win of the season – is making the game look easy.

“I haven’t been playing my best golf. It’s been kind of a tough stretch these last few weeks. Really I’m trying to gain some momentum for the rest of the season,” he told a press conference.

“I know that maybe sounds like low expectations for the week, but honestly I’d really like to hit some good shots, have some really good up-and-downs, make some key putts throughout the week, and play four solid rounds.

“My frustration level is definitely higher than it’s been in a long time. I’ve got to believe that good golf is around the corner.”

Despite his recent troubles Clark is still ranked fourth in the world but he is not in the top 20 when it comes to the bookmakers’ likely winner at Pinehurst this week, with his odds as high as 66-1 with some outlets.

He accepts he has to improve the psychological side of his game.

“The difference I think between the guys that really make it and enjoy the game, have a long career, they’re just better mentally than everyone,” he added.

“I have to work on my expectations, just not putting so much pressure on myself.

It’s been kind of a tough stretch these last few weeks. My frustration level is definitely higher than it’s been in a long time

Defending US Open champion Wyndham Clark

“It is tough. I mean, it’s obviously challenging being one of the top players, especially doing it as quickly as I did (winning a major in only his seventh appearance).

“Guys like Scottie right now are making it look real easy. There’s a lot of other guys that struggle a lot of the weeks of the year and play good maybe just a few events.

“It’s definitely challenging. It’s obviously frustrating for me that I’m not as consistent right now.”

Mental health has become a serious talking point since Grayson Murray, born just 70 miles away in Raleigh, walked out of a tournament just over a fortnight ago and took his own life.

Clark accepts the PGA Tour, often criticised for its lack of camaraderie, can be a lonely place and those involved in it should start looking out for each other more.

“That’s obviously a very sad and tragic situation that happened,” he said.

“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.

“There are those really lonely times when you miss the cut, you throw your clubs in the car, you drive off, and you’re very p***ed off.

“In reality I’d say 80 per cent of the field storms off pretty p***ed off after a lot of the rounds.

“As far as the amount of help and stuff that guys have out here, we have unlimited resources, to be honest.

“I just think it’s more of maybe the caddies and the players maybe checking in on each player. Being like, ‘Hey, man, how are you doing?’. Not just, ‘How are you playing golf?’.

“That’s more maybe on the players to take initiative to do that.”

Australia’s Adam Scott will extend his run of consecutive majors to 92 despite missing out on qualifying in a play-off last week.

He needed to be inside the world’s top 60 to earn a spot but after skipping the Memorial Tournament he slipped to 61st on Monday only to gain a place as Murray was removed from the list.

Fellow former Masters champion Sergio Garcia – now playing on the LIV Golf Tour – will play his 25th consecutive US Open as one of four alternates from final qualifying.

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