PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark had an unforgettable round at hallowed Pebble Beach when everything went his way and every putt seemed to go in. It gave him the course record Saturday with a 12-under 60.
It also might be enough to give him another big title and $3.6 million without hitting another shot at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Clark was inches away from a sub-60 round on a cold, soggy course, a performance so remarkable it was nine shots better than the field average. He made five putts from 25 feet or longer. He made bogey with perhaps his best putt of the day after hitting a chip left-handed.
He finished one shot ahead of Ludvig Aberg, who missed a long eagle putt of his own on the par-5 18th hole and shot 67.
And now it’s up to Mother Nature.
Rain began to fall over the final few holes, and the heavy stuff was anticipated overnight on a course already saturated. Of equal concern was ferocious wind, with gusts anticipated to be approaching 60 m.p.h.
Gary Young, the chief referee for the PGA Tour, said officials would decide before dawn Sunday whether the final round would have to be delayed, and then whether any golf could be played. It would be cut short to 54 holes if they determined they could not finish Monday.
If that happened, the first full signature event on the PGA Tour would be 54 holes.
Dustin Johnson was the last player to win Pebble Beach over 54 holes in 2009. Payne Stewart was the last player to win over 54 holes at Pebble Beach with a birdie on his final hole Saturday in 1999.
“I definitely thought about it last night and this morning with everyone saying how bad the weather’s going to be,” Clark said. “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.”
Besides, once the putts started falling, his mind was mostly blank except for making birdie, along with two eagles on the front nine.
“I was just, ‘See ball, hit ball, try to hit it where I wanted to.’ I really had a good feel on the greens,” Clark said. “So in my mind I was like, ‘All right, let’s just get us to where we’re putting,’ because the hole seemed like a bucket today.”
And it was. Clark made 190 feet of putts — from the 40-foot range for eagles on Nos. 2 and 6. And after that second eagle, he ran off five straight birdies, including a 30-footer on the tough eighth hole and a 25-footer on No. 9.
He was 10 under through 11 holes, and a 59 was in the back of Clark’s mind. And then he made his only bogey, and even that felt like a win.
He came out of his tee shot on the par-3 12th into a plugged lie in a bunker, still some 40 yards to the hole. He could only managed to chop that out to the collar of the rough in another bunker, the ball well above his feet. Clark ultimately chose to invert a wedge to go left-handed, the ball squirting across the green into the first cut about 25 feet away.
A double bogey was likely. A triple bogey was possible. He holed it for bogey, and then followed with two more birdies and was back on track.
“Honestly, of any of the putts today that I was not really trying to make it was that one,” Clark said. “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.’”
Aberg, who missed a two-foot par putt at Spyglass Hill on Thursday, has played bogey-free for two days at Pebble Beach. He had his chances to catch Clark, missing birdie putts of 10 feet on the par-5 14th and 6 feet on the 16th.
Matthieu Pavon of France, a winner last week at Torrey Pines, birdied his last hole for a 66 and was alone in third place.
Scottie Scheffler, who started in a three-way share of the lead, shot 70 and was four shots behind.
Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., is tied for 31st at 7 under, 10 shots back of the leader. Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is tied for 39th at 6 under. Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., is tied for 47th at 5 under. Nick Taylor of Abbotsford and Mackenzie Hughes of Hamilton, Ont., are tied for 71st at even par.
Clark knew this was his day when his drive on the 16th went into the deep, soggy rough. Just his luck, it was right in front of where an animal had been burrowing, giving him a free drop and a clean lie. And the greens were so soft he could take dead aim at a back pin. He hit that to 10 feet behind the hole, and the downhill birdie putt was one turn short.
On the par-3 17th, his 15-foot birdie putt stopped an inch in front of the cup. His 25-foot eagle putt for 59 on the final hole also was short by a few inches.
No matter. His 60 beat by two the tournament record held by four players, and by one shot it beat the course record held by Hurly Long of Germany when he played the Carmel Cup in 2017 with Texas Tech.
The PGA Tour counts records when players are able to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the short grass. The European tour does not.
It was still a stunning round, and now Clark waits to see if he has to play the final round. Young said players would be advised by 5:15 a.m. Sunday whether the final round will be delayed — if that’s the case, it would be a lengthy one.
The objective is 72 holes, whether it’s a signature event or not. Starting on Monday would mean the tour is confident they could finish.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf
Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press