Wyndham Clark had enough to celebrate late Saturday afternoon after doing what no one had done before – shooting a course-record 12-under-par 60 at water-logged Pebble Beach – but he didn't know at the time that it would be enough to win.
When a massive storm blew into California's Monterey Peninsula early Sunday and was forecast to continue into Monday, PGA Tour officials decided Sunday evening to take the rare step of declaring the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to be complete after 54 holes, securing Clark's third PGA Tour victory.
"The storm affecting the Monterey Peninsula throughout the day
Sunday is forecast to continue into the early hours of Monday with very strong
winds. Although conditions are forecast to improve through the morning
Monday, after consultation with Monterey County emergency authorities, who have
implemented a Shelter in Place order until early tomorrow morning for the
greater Pebble Beach community, and out of an abundance of caution for the
safety of all constituents, there will be no play on Monday. Therefore,
in accordance with the PGA Tour Regulations the tournament results will be
final through the conclusion of 54 holes,” the tour said in a statement.
Clark finished at 17-under-par 199, one stroke better than Sweden's Ludvig Åberg and two ahead of France's Matthieu Pavon, who won one week earlier down the coast at Torrey Pines.
When Clark began his third round on Saturday morning, he was six strokes behind the leaders. By day’s end, he had done something no player had ever done at Pebble Beach: shoot 12-under-par. He missed a 26-foot putt on the famous oceanside par-5 finishing hole for 59.
Clark did it knowing the approaching storm, which brought near hurricane-force winds and heavy rain on Sunday, could shorten the tournament to 54 holes.
“With everyone saying how bad the weather’s going to be, all right, well, you’ve got to have that mentality that today’s the last day, so try to go for broke. With that said, that’s very rare that we have 54 holes, so I wasn’t banking on that, and I’m still not banking on it,” Clark said Saturday afternoon.
Clark’s 60 (accomplished using lift, clean and place rules) broke the course-record 61 set by Texas Tech's Hurly Long in the 2017 Carmel Cup college event.
Two things stood out about Clark’s round: He made 190 feet of putts over the 18 holes (that’s an average of more than 10 feet per hole), and he made a bogey at the par-3 12th where he holed a 25-foot bogey putt after hitting his tee shot into a bunker.
It was, in the most charmed ways, one of those days.
With eagles on both front-nine par-5s, Clark stood 10-under through 11 holes and, given the soft conditions, almost anything seemed possible. Standing over a putt for 59 on one of the most famous courses in the world, Clark knew the opportunity he had.
“Honestly, I think anyone that has ever shot 59 or gets into that kind of zone, you don’t really think about score, you’re just so focused on the next shot. I really didn’t think about it until I got to 18 tee box and when I did, I thought, Oh, my gosh, it would have been really nice to have one of those last two because then I only have to birdie 18,” said Clark, who earned $3.6 million from the $20 million "signature event."
“Once I hit the fairway on 18, I knew I was going to have a chance to hopefully try to shoot that special number. I gave it my best shot. Unfortunately, I left some putts short. I’m super happy with my round. Anytime you shoot 12 under anywhere you’ve got to be happy.”
“A lot of big changes, but when you’re in a spot where I was mentally in putting, you kind of needed a change.”
Here’s the kicker to Clark’s story: Since winning the U.S. Open last year, his game has gone flat, particularly his putting.
Early in the week at Pebble Beach, Clark had nine different putters, searching for one that would bring back the magic.
“I brought these putters and we resolved to changing no line on the putter,” Clark said. “I went a little bit shorter, and I went from being conventional to cross-hand. A lot of big changes, but when you’re in a spot where I was mentally in putting, you kind of needed a change, just something totally different so you couldn’t complain or have those same feels that I had in previous tournaments.”
Rain or no rain, Clark found what had been missing.
Ron Green Jr.