Wyndham Clark was just two feet away from a 57, but he instead settled for a 12-under 60 in Saturday’s third round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am.
The two feet was the result of three short putts on the final three holes that combined added up to less than a shoelace in length with Clark’s birdie putts on the 16th and 17th holes literally sitting on the lip of the hole and his eagle attempt on the 18th stopping less than a foot from dropping in.
The 60, Clark’s lowest professional career round, came on an extremely wet golf course that created a ball-in-hand scenario due to the drenching of the Monterey Peninsula over the week. But that didn’t stop the reigning U.S. Open champion from taking control of the first signature event of the year.
“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,” Clark said about a course record performance. “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.”
Starting six shots behind the trio of Belgium’s Thomas Detry, Denmark’s Ludvig Aberg and Scottie Scheffler, Clark, whose best tournament round at Pebble Beach came in 2019 with a 3-under 69, started quickly with an eagle at the par 5 second hole and then a birdie at the short par 4 fourth. He then notched another eagle at the par 5 sixth to move from five under at the start of the day to 10 under with 12 holes to go.
After the eagle at the sixth, Clark made five consecutive birdies between the short 7th and par 4 11th to find himself moving from an outside chance of contending to the lead at 15-under and clearly the hottest player on the course as he made the turn at 8-under 28.
But as low as he went through 11 holes, it was a miraculous bogey at the 12th that saved his round and possibly his first win since the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club last June.
With a fried egg lie after his 6-iron came up short in the bunker on the 204-yard par 3, 12th, Clark tried to advance the bunker shot toward the hole, which was tucked on the other side of the green, but instead the ball landed in the rough and snuggled up against the bunker face, leaving Clark with the best opting of hitting the ball left-handed from the rough.
The third shot found the fringe at the back of the green and a double bogey seemed in the cards, but with putter in hand, Clark, who’s been en fuego with a new putter and new cross handed putting stroke, drained the 26-footer for his lone bogey of the round.
“I started feeling the nerves kind of on 10 and, then making that bogey on 12, making that putt was huge,” Clark said while analyzing his round. “But in my mind I think in the past I would have kind of coasted in and shot a nice 8, 9 under. To keep the pedal down and to stay aggressive mentally was the most impressive thing to myself. And then obviously making all those putts was, you know, out of the ordinary, it was pretty awesome.”
Clark instantly made up for the mistake at the 12th with birdies at the 13th and 14th to extend his lead by two over the former leaders that were over an hour behind him.
The other break of the day for Clark came at the par 4 16th hole, when he drove his ball left into some of the highest, gnarliest rough on the golf course.
It was rough that even Clark admitted might have forced him to hit out sideways, but as luck would have it, Clark received relief from a burrowing animal hole, that ultimately gave him a drop and eventually a downhill 11-footer that stopped on the edge of the cup.
“I don’t know how you could beat around like this at Pebble Beach even if—I haven’t shot 59, but I would say even if I had shot 59 somewhere,” Clark said of his round “I don’t think it would compare to shooting a score like this at one of the most historic golf courses in the world.”
Clark came to Pebble Beach searching for a game.
With a two-win season under his belt last year that included a major title, Clark has been struggling to find a way to get into contention again.
If you take out the season finale The Tour Championship, a limited field, handicapped event out of the mix, Clark has not recorded a top 10 since last June.
It had become so bad, that when he arrived at Pebble Beach this week, he worked with a guy named Mike—Clark couldn’t remember his last name—for part of putting guru’s Phil Kenyon’s camp and in a three-to-four hour putting session picked through nine different putters, to find a stoke.
Eventually he used a shorter shafted putter, with the aiming line eliminated and changed from conventional grip to cross handed.
On Saturday, Clark validated the work of six days ago by making 189’ 9” feet of putts and recording his lowest SG Putting number of 5.283, 0.793 points better than his career best at that 2023 Fortinet Championship.
“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,” Clark said in confirmation of his changes.
Now Clark will sit and wait to see if his efforts on Saturday will be worthy of another victory.
The forecast for Sunday’s final round—is one to three inches of rain with winds gusting up to 65 mph—will likely postpone any play on Sunday. And if the rainfall is as high as forecasted, the course may become unplayable, crowning Clark as a 54-hole champion.
The last 54-hole finish at Pebble came in 2009 and the last on the PGA Tour was in New Orleans in 2016.
“As far as no round tomorrow, I definitely thought about it last night and this morning with everyone saying how bad the weather’s going to be,” Clark said. “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.”