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Wyndham Clark plays big and becomes a major champion at the US Open

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wyndham Clark always carried the message from his late mother to “play big.” Nothing was bigger than Sunday when he held off Rory McIlroy with one clutch shot after another to become a U.S. Open champion.

The final act was two putts from 60 feet away on the 18th hole at Los Angeles Country Club, and the 29-year-old Clark pumped his fist when it settled a foot away. He tapped that in for an even-par 70 and a one-shot victory over McIlroy and so many other stars.

Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world, couldn’t catch him. Neither could British Open champion Cameron Smith or Rickie Fowler, who played in the final group for the third time in a major and watched an exquisite performance by Clark, playing for the third time on the weekend in a major.

Clark let loose his emotions at the end, looking to the blue sky in tears and covering his face with his cap as he sobbed on the green.

He thought about quitting golf when he struggled 10 years ago with his mother, Lise, dying of breast cancer. He didn’t qualify for the the majors until two years ago. And now he has two victories in six weeks, with more big moments to come.

For McIlroy, it was more major disappointment. He opened with a birdie and didn’t make another one the rest of the day. He hung around when Clark began to falter, though McIlroy missed fairways and couldn’t buy a putt, similar to the British Open last summer at St. Andrews. He closed with a 70.