Posted February 5, 2024 in "Watts" In The Bag by Tom Brassell
By The Associated Press
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Wyndham Clark noticed the cameras starting to show up on the 12th hole, the sure sign he was making a charge. He felt the buzz of being in contention and the affection from the gallery when he walked off the 18th green at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“It really felt like I had just won the tournament,” Clark said.
And he did on Sunday.
It’s just that his record score and all those emotions happened on Saturday.
Clark was declared the 54-hole winner at the first full signature event of the PGA Tour season when rain and dangerous wind postponed the final round on Sunday, and then tour and Monterey County officials decided it was too dangerous to play on Monday.
Clark won for the third time in nine months, all of them big titles — a $20 million elevated event at the Wells Fargo Championship, his first major at the U.S. Open in June, and then the $20 million signature event at Pebble Beach.
And he did it in style. He broke the Pebble Beach record with a 60 on Saturday — missing an eagle putt from 25 feet on the final hole — and left the course with a one-shot lead over Ludvig Aberg of Sweden. That tap-in for birdie turned out to be the winning putt.
Clark was declared the 54-hole winner, not unusual for Pebble Beach. The course was soaked by overnight rain, a small problem. And then the wind arrived, a big problem. It packed gusts of 60 mph and toppled portable toilets, signage, fences and even a camera used to measure ShotLink Data. The final round was postponed until Monday.
And then on Sunday evening — by then Clark had gone for a walk, made breakfast, watched a movie and was sweating from playing table tennis with his high school English teacher — the final round was canceled.
Nasty weather was forecast into Monday morning, but Monterey County had urged residents to stay home, motorists were advised not to travel the highways until Monday night and tour and county officials thought it was prudent and safe not to proceed.
“It’s maybe not the way you dream of winning,” Clark said in a conference call Sunday night. “With that said, a lot of us yesterday had … not that we knew, but we definitely had this outside shot and thinking that maybe this is our last round.”
Clark was six shots behind going into Saturday and said he was aiming for a top 10. He had a real chance at 59 and had to settle for a 60 to reach 19-under 199, and that was enough.
“Everyone wants to win a tournament in 72 holes and sleep on a lead and perform on a Sunday and come down the stretch and embrace your caddie on 18 and do all of that,” Clark said. “So with that said, Saturday was so unique.”
He shot 28 on the front nine, and then birdied the next two holes as the crowd grew.
“When we got to 12 green, now all the cameras are on me,” he said.
He made a 25-foot bogey putt — his fifth putt of 25 feet or longer — and then started hearing the crowd talk about the course record, and Clark clearly had a sub-60 score on his mind.
“I felt like the entire golf course of fans was starting to follow my group because I had a chance to do something super special,” he said. “So coming down 16, 17, 18 at Pebble Beach it felt like a Sunday. The stands were full, the fans were there, the buzz was there, the feelings were there, the nerves were there.
“As I come to the green I got a standing ovation and everyone was giving me the respect for having such a great round.”
The course and tournament facilities were closed on Sunday. Clark will get his trophy, and the $3.6 million will get deposited. He should go up to about No. 6 in the world ranking. It wasn’t Sunday, but he didn’t feel cheated. It counts.
And so extends a mystery about Clark, who is getting the reputation as a big-game hunter. His three wins in nine months are the U.S. Open and two $20 million events against elite fields, at the Wells Fargo Championship last May and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Dating to his first win in May, he has only one other top 10, third place at the Tour Championship when he was never really in the hunt.
His talent, not to mention the U.S. Open when he outplayed Rory McIlroy, is one reason the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League came calling and Clark was listening. He was contemplating a move until deciding to stick with the PGA Tour, at least for now.
“I wanted to see what they could bring to the table,” Clark said “I ultimately declined going to LIV because I felt like I still have a lot of things left in the tank on the PGA Tour and I wanted to chase records, I wanted to chase world ranking. My dream is to try to be one of the top players in the world if not the top player.
“I chose my legacy over LIV,” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds with my career and what the PGA Tour and LIV is going to do, but at least for this season I am 100 percent set on the PGA Tour and I want to try to get to as high in the world as I possibly can.”
Check out “Watts” in Wyndham Clark’s bag below.
Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees) – Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green 60 6.5 TX
3-wood: TaylorMade Qi10 (16.5 degrees) – Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 80 TX
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM10 (P, G, S), Vokey Design WedgeWorks (60-A) – Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Odyssey AI-One Jailbird – Grip: SuperStroke Zenergy Tour 3.0 17”
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x