Wells Fargo Championship
Wyndham Clark loses lead early, then storms back to easily capture first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow
For a brief moment Sunday, Wyndham Clark had to have been wondering what it was going to take to capture his first victory on the PGA Tour. The 29-year-old entered the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship with a two-shot lead over seven-time winner Xander Schauffele and promptly bogeyed the opening hole at Quail Hollow.
Schauffele birdied the third hole to pull even and when he two-putted from 75 feet for birdie on the par-5 seventh hole, he was one shot ahead of Clark.
Five holes later, however, Clark was in command of the tournament, holding a four-shot lead. Yes, it happened that quickly, as Clark made three birdies against Schauffele’s two bogeys during that stretch.
Clark shot 67-67-63-68 for a 19-under total to beat Schauffele (70) by four shots and collect the $3.6 million first-place check that goes to the winner of the designated event. It was Clark’s first victory anywhere since he turned pro back in 2017. He finished second at the 2020 Bermuda Championship, losing in a playoff there to Brian Gay.
Tyrrell Hatton and Harris English tied for third at 12 under.
“I didn’t start out great, I was kind of shaky,” Clark said. “I think in years past I might have folded. This time I stayed patient, hung in there and caught fire on the back side.”
The shaky start began for Clark with an opening drive left on the first, followed by an approach that was also left. He failed to get up and down and made bogey.
But after Schauffele took the lead six holes later it was almost as if it calmed Clark’s nerves. He pitched the ball to four feet on the eighth for birdie, got up and in for birdie from a bunker on the par-5 10th, then made a 20-footer for birdie on the par-4 12th hole. It may have been an impressive par save on the par-4 11th from a deep, nasty greenside bunker that was the best hole Clark played during his run.
Clark added birdies at Nos. 14 and 15 to run away with the tournament and play the infamous final three holes at Quail Hollow with zero pressure.
“Sorry, I’m a little choked up,” Clark said immediately after tapping in for bogey on the last hole. “It’s been a long five years to get to this point on tour, I thought I would’ve had one earlier. But it was well worth the wait. I’m so grateful.”
There’s the aforementioned second-place finish in 2020 in Bermuda for Clark that was best performance to date. So far this season Clark had finished sixth place at the Puntacana Championship and fifth place at the Valspar Championship. He was up to 80th in the World Ranking heading into this week, his highest position ever, and he hasn’t missed a cut since the Shriners Children’s Open last October, a span of 15 events. Clark is projected to vault to 31st in the world with the victory.
“There’s so much that goes into this and there were so many times when I wanted to cry and break clubs, and I did break clubs some times … to get to this point is so sweet,” he said.
World No. 3 Rory McIlroy played for the first time since he missed the cut at the Masters early last month. He made news again the week after Augusta National for skipping the RBC Heritage, which meant he would not receive a $3 million bonus that he earned as part of the Player Impact Program, because it was the second designated event that he missed.
At Quail Hollow, McIlroy opened with 68 but could not build on that momentum, shooting 73-71-72 to tie for 47th place at even-par for the week.