The disappointment of seeing his eagle putt for a 59 come up one roll shy and the subsequent tap in is not the way Wyndham Clark had pictured taking his last two strokes of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but that’s the way it panned out after the tournament organisers made the call late last night to reduce the tournament to 54 holes, awarding Clark the victory as completing the final round on Monday looked out of the question.
“This tournament is very special to me and my caddie, John,” Clark told the press after he’d been named champion, “mainly because it’s both of our’s favorite place in the world. My caddie grew up in San Jose, only an hour, hour and a half away. He has always told me that, he goes, ‘Wyndham, if there’s one thing you can do in your career, I don’t care if you win a hundred times or one time, I just hope one of them is at Pebble Beach because it was the place he always dreamed of winning at.’ He played in tournaments here, he played in the AT&T pro-am, he I believe played in the U.S. Open here. So it’s very special to him, which makes it special to me.
“So I’ve always told him, I said I’m going to make it happen. So for us to pull it off and in the fashion that we did was pretty awesome because we had a very mediocre round on Thursday, we had a great round on Friday that was turned a little sour with the finishing five, six holes we had on the back nine, and then to break a course record at a place that is, you know, one of the most historic golf courses in the world and then ultimately to win I think was just the icing on the cake.
“We both, when we both found out, we were kind of crying and laughing and celebrating on the phone. Then he quickly rushed over to where I’m staying to see me and we’ve just been hugging and talking about all the great things and the shots and how amazing the last, you know, 36 hours have been.
“So it’s very special. Obviously you never think about winning a tournament in 54 holes. And it’s maybe not the way you dream of winning, but with that said, I think a lot of us yesterday kind of had — not that we knew or anything, but we definitely had this outside shot in thinking that maybe this is our last round.”
Clark had been heavily rumoured to be joining LIV over the past few weeks, and when the question was posed he didn’t shy away from it, admitting that it was a move that he’d strongly been considering before ultimately choosing to remain a PGA Tour player.
“Yeah, there’s definitely some truth,” he admitted. “I definitely met with LIV and went through those discussions. I wanted to see what they could bring to the table. I ultimately declined going to LIV because I felt like I still have a lot of things left in the tank on the PGA Tour and I wanted to chase records, I wanted to chase world ranking.
“My dream is to try to be one of the top players in the world if not the top player. I just grew up always imagining winning PGA TOUR events. So I ultimately, I chose my legacy over LIV, over LIV and that’s really what it came down to.”
This year’s format saw the field reduced to 80 players, played over two courses – Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach – as opposed to three in previous years, and of course is one of the season’s ‘Signature Events’ on the PGA Tour, and Clark, despite looking through rose-tinted glasses as the freshly-minted champion and set to receive a $3.6 million cheque for first place, feels that it’s what the venue deserves.
“Yeah, it’s an interesting question you ask,” he replied when queried about the 2024 format, “because it’s a very historic tournament and I know it goes all the way back to Bing Crosby and even before that with having all the celebrities and being a three-round tournament played at three courses.
“You know, I love that it’s an elevated event, a signature event. I loved that the best players in the world were here at one of the most iconic places in golf and I think it should always be that way.”