AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Pebble Beach history! Wyndham Clark blows away course record with stunning 12-under 60
PEBBLE BEACH — At one of the most magical places in golf, Wyndham Clark enjoyed a magical afternoon. He almost shot that most magical number. He might soon know if he pulled a rabbit out of hat and stole his third career PGA Tour victory.
With the prospect of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am being shortened to 54 holes because of a weather forecast so poor that the late Bing Crosby would have shivered, Clark embarked on his third round Saturday at the $20 million signature event with an aggressive attitude that would put a newly revamped putting technique to the ultimate test. By the time his 4-iron second shot came to rest on the par-5 18th green at storied Pebble Beach Golf Links, Clark was 26 feet away from shooting 59.
The uphill putt, struck using the cross-handed grip Clark only started employing in earnest this week, was dead on line. But its energy dissipated five inches short of the cup. Clark tapped in for birdie and a 12-under 60, the lowest round ever posted at Pebble Beach, and that last little stroke might have big consequences.
Storming from six strokes off the lead to start the day, Clark finished at 17-under 199, one stroke ahead of Swedish talent Ludvig Aberg. It’s possible that there will be no more golf at this event, not with a weather forecast on Sunday of up to three inches of rain and winds potentially gusting to more than 60 miles an hour. More precipitation is expected on Monday.
Clark’s career low round could be worth $3.6 million if this tournament is shortened to 54 holes for the first time since 2009 when Dustin Johnson was declared the winner.
Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion, who won last June at Los Angeles Country Club but hadn’t produced much decent golf since then, never saw it coming, mostly because the putting touch that carried him to his first major title had deserted him.
“Yeah, it’s been kind of a struggle the first part of the year,” said Clark, 30, who came to Pebble Beach early and got in some work with Phil Kenyon associate Mike Kanski to make some adjustments to his putting stroke. “Then you add not putting well, so I was really getting frustrated. But I know it's the start of the year. I've been hitting it good, and I've been doing a lot of positive things. I just have really been trying to focus on that. And then even though sometimes I didn't know where I was going with the putting, I had to believe that it was eventually going to come back.”
Did it ever.
Clark tallied nine birdies and two eagles on a day that was cool, overcast and calm. Rain throughout the week also had kept Pebble Beach soft, so once again the competition was conducted using preferred lies. But preferred lies wasn’t the key factor. It was that Clark couldn’t miss, converting nearly 190 feet of putts. And that didn’t include the most crucial putt of his round, a 26-footer for bogey at the par-three 12th.
The Colorado native was in the midst of giving back multiple strokes after playing his previous six holes in seven under par. After a chunked 6-iron plugged in the right bunker, Clark hacked it out to an awkward lie and his ball trundled just over the front bunker into another spot of bother that provided no comfortable stance. He eventually opted to chip left-handed for his third, and the ball skittered through the green onto the fringe above the hole. No problem. He snaked the putt in beautifully.
“Making that putt was huge,” said Clark, who had to admit he has never putted better in his life. “Honestly, of any of the putts today that I was not really trying to make was that one. I really was just focused on my speed and just trying to get it down there, two-putt, get the double, go to the next hole and move on. For that to go in, it was like all right, man, I'm hot.”
He bounced back with birdies at 13 and 14 and had good looks on the next three holes before settling for 60 with his two-putt birdie on the iconic par-five 18th.
“Really, he was a couple of turns of the ball from shooting 57,” said John Ellis, Clark’s caddie. “It was an unbelievable round of golf. It was an unbelievable putting round. It wasn’t just the best putting I’ve ever seen from him; it was the best I’ve ever seen a human being putt.”
Clark, who gained 5.281 strokes on the greens against the field, could hardly be disappointed. He embarked at the start of the day with the intention, he said, “to go for broke.” He ended it being prouder of how he handled the stress as he moved into the lead and closer to shooting the first 59 at Pebble Beach. His 60 is one better than the course record shot by Texas Tech’s Hurly Long in the 2017 Carmel Cup and two clear of the tournament record at Pebble held by David Duval, Tom Kite, Patrick Cantlay and Matthias Schwab. He tied the overall 18-hole scoring held by Sung Kang, who shot 60 in 2016 at the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
“Probably what was going on internally, to be honest. To kind of have those nerves, and then obviously you're also chasing a different kind of nerves of trying to shoot 59,” Clark said of his biggest takeaway from the day. “To keep the pedal down and to stay aggressive mentally was the most impressive thing to myself.”
“Just an incredible round all things considered,” said veteran Matt Kuchar, one of Clark’s playing partners. “To have a course record at Pebble Beach is incredible, and this could be the final day of the tournament. This could be the winner of this event with that round.”
Clark wasn’t going to let himself think about the win. Too early. Too many unknowns late Saturday. But he did think about where he was standing. The crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean could be heard nearby. No one had ever posted a better score in the 125-year history of Pebble Beach. Just the opportunity to strive for a 59 and have that score on your putter on the home hole of one of the most famous and revered courses in the world is a moment in time he’ll never forget.
“Yeah, I think anytime you can shoot 59 I think those nerves come up, even if you're at home. I think for any golfer that happens. To put it on in a place like this in a signature event makes it even a little bit more special,” Clark said with a trace of wonder. “That's where I think those nerves coming down those last six holes [came from]. Even though it's a Saturday, I really felt like it was the end of a tournament because I did have a chance to do something really special. Even though I fell short on the 59, 60 is still pretty awesome.”