Wells Fargo Championship : Wyndham Clark soars to first PGA Tour victory
Walking down the final fairway at Quail Hollow on Sunday, victory assured, but Wyndham Clark made a conscious effort to soak up all the sights and sounds around him. Moments later, the American used the home run to win the Wells Fargo Championship and his first PGA Tour title.
“You only win your first tournament once,” Clark reflected, but it was a victory played out countless times in his imagination.
“It’s a reality, I’ve dreamed about it since I was probably six years old,” Clarke told reporters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Ever since I’ve been on the PGA Tour, you fantasize about it all the time, and I’ve had a few times this year where I dream about myself winning.
“To do it on this golf course against this competition is better than I ever imagined.”
The manner of victory was also the stuff of dreams, as Clarke carded 19-under to win by four shots over compatriot Xander Schaufel, who is ranked 75 places above him at world No.5. According to the PGA Tour, tied for second most in event history, behind Rory McIlroy’s 21-under in 2015.
McIlroy, making his first start since missing the cut at The Masters, finished 31st in a star-studded field featuring six of the world’s top 10.
A final round of three-under 68 sealed the 29-year-old Clark’s fourth consecutive round in the 60s, after a superb 63 on Saturday gave him a two-shot lead over Schoffel going into the final round. was
After turning pro in 2017, Clark was five years and 133 PGA Tour starts without a win. After finishing sixth at the Corrales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic in March, the American began to think he might never taste victory.
“I know it sounds crazy because I’ve only been here five years, but I’ve had a lot of opportunities where I was within two or three shots either going into the back nine or starting on Sunday and I always seem to fall. Short, and not only that, but it looks like I’m back in the ranks,” Clark admitted.
“There were texts and calls and times when I was so frustrated with people in my camp where I didn’t think I was ever going to win and I was like, ‘Let’s stop talking about it,’ because I didn’t want to. Come to think of it. I said maybe it’s not in the cards for me.
“So being in the situation this time, I was like, ‘Okay, we know what not to do.’
Those lessons were immediately put to the test on Sunday, as Clark opened with a bogey and was one over near the eighth tee. However, a subsequent birdie followed by four more in the first six holes of the next nine saw him cruise home.
When he brought home his closing bogey, Clark became emotional. After hugging his caddy and Schaufel, he appeared to hold back tears as he saluted the crowd gathered on the 18th.
The win earned Clarke a $3.6 million prize – his previous best pay of $485,000 – and stamped his ticket to the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in July. With this, his world ranking rose 49 places to number 31.
It fulfilled a dream that almost never got off the ground. When a 19-year-old Clark was establishing himself as a talented player at Oklahoma State University, his mother died of breast cancer.
Clark lost his “rock” and seriously considered walking away from the game altogether.
“I was playing really well,” Clarke recalled. “There were times when I drove off the golf course in qualifying or tournaments and drove as fast as I could, I didn’t know where I was going.
“The pressure of golf and then not having my mom there and someone I could call was really hard for me. Then professionally, I’ve had moments like that where you just, you line up. Miss several cuts or you think your game is good and you’re not getting much out of it and you think about doing it. [walking away].
“Max Homma has a great quote: ‘Every golfer is one shot away from thinking he can win the Masters or one shot away from quitting golf.’ It’s a really great quote because it’s true. I’m glad I caught it and am here now.”