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Clark clarifies McIlroy comments; wonders if Euros will ‘be leaking oil’ on Sunday

Honesty is a double-edged sword with the media. A player speaks positively of his ability and he’s viewed either as confident or cocky.

Last week, U.S. Ryder Cup team member Wyndham Clark was a guest on “Golf Today” and was asked if he’d welcome a singles match against Rory McIlroy, whom Clark outdueled to win this year’s U.S. Open.

“I have tons of respect for Rory and because of that respect, I also want to beat him,” Clark said. “I like to think I am better than him and I want to prove that. I would love to play Rory. I think that would be really fun for the fans too. Long-ball hitters. We have similar games in that respect. It would be a little bit of David and Goliath. I am hoping to get that chance. Regardless of who I play, I am really excited. But that one would be a lot of fun.”

Innocent enough, except that some – whether honestly or manipulatively – took that as a slight against McIlroy.

Speaking with the media Wednesday at Marco Simone, Clark assured those listening that was not the intent.

“If you listen to the whole interview, I praised [Rory] and said how much I respect him and how good I think he is and how he’s one of the best players in the last 20 years. And what I said was, I think I’m better than him when I’m playing good – if I don’t think I’m better than every player out here, then what am I doing? If I’m trying to be the best player in the world, which is what I’m trying to be, I’ve got to believe that. Right now, maybe I’m not. He’s had a way better career than me, that’s obvious. But I also have to have that self-belief that I can beat anyone out here,” Clark said.

“It is kind of funny to me that people took it that way, because they kind of saw that I’m better than him and I want to beat him. Well, of course I want to beat him and of course I believe that I can beat him. Yeah, it’s interesting how things get taken out of context.”

After further clarifying his comments, Clark was asked how he prepared for his first Ryder Cup. Clark explained that he took a few weeks off after the playoffs before getting into “grind mode” with money games and some format practice.

He then added something that might actually be used for bulletin-board material for the Europeans, many of whom have played in recent weeks on the DP World Tour.

“So that’s kind of how I prepared. I think the European team, it’s great that they got to play, but I also think they might be maybe a little mentally fatigued as this week goes on,” Clark said.

“This is obviously a very intense environment and mentally challenging, and then also you put in a pretty physically demanding golf course being so hilly and up and down, that maybe come Sunday they might be leaking oil and we’ll be fresh.”