Wyndham Clark made the victory look routine, even though it was the first of his pro career.
The 29-year-old Clark, previously winless in almost six seasons as a pro, closed with a three-under-par 68 to defeat fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State by four strokes in the 19th Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.
Clark, who took a two-stroke lead over Schauffele into the final round, earned a spot in the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, in July, and finally won in his 134th start on the PGA Tour. Said Clark: “I can’t wait because I love to go there and play links golf.”
But first things first.
“I’m a little bit choked up because this has been a long time coming,” said Clark, who captured the 2017 Pacific 12 Conference Championship when he played at Oregon. “It’s been a long five years and a I felt like I should have had one a long time earlier, but it just didn’t happen, even though I was close a few times. To get to this point in my journey is just so sweet.
“I didn’t hit the ball today as well as I did yesterday and I got off a little bit of a shaky start, but I just slowed things down and just kept playing solid golf until I really caught fire on the back side. I just told myself to relax, I have a lot more holes to play. You can’t win the tournament after the first few holes on a Sunday.
“I only wish my Mom (his biggest fan, who passed away from breast cancer in 2013) could be here with me, but I know she is looking down on me from up above and smiling.”
Clark, who lost in a playoff to Brian Gay in the 2018 Bermuda Championship, actually fell one stroke behind Schauffele after seven holes in the final round, but then reeled off five birdies in eight holes through No. 15 on his way to posting a winning score of 19-under 265 despite a bogey on the last hole.
Schauffele, seeking his first victory this season after winning three times last year to give him seven titles on the PGA Tour and 10 as a professional, birdied two of the first seven holes to take the lead from Clark, but made four bogeys the rest of the way in a 70.
“Clark was a buzzsaw on the back nine,” said Schauffele, winner of the Gold Medal at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan. “And I started leaking oil and never really got it going again. But, all credit to Wyndham.”
Harris English bounced back from two bogeys on the front nine with four birdies coming home in a 69 and finished seven shots behind in a tie for third with Tyrrell Hatton of England, a second-round co-leader who made three birdies in the middle of his 70, while first-round leader Tommy Fleetwood of England made a late birdie in another 70 and wound up eight back in a tie for fifth with Adam Scott of Australia, the 2013 Masters champion, who had two late birdies to salvage a 71.
Michael Kim of San Diego and Cal had five birdies on the first 10 holes en route to a 69 and was nine down in solo seventh, while defending champion and sixth-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal made two late birdies in a 70 and was 10 strokes behind in big tie for eighth with Denny McCarthy, who sank a six-foot eagle putt on No. 7 in his 66; K.H. Lee of South Korea, who shot a bogey-free 68; Corey Conners of Canada, who holed a four-foot eagle putt at No. 7 in his 70; Sungjae Im of South Korea, who sank a 17-foot eagle putt on the seventh hole in his 72, and Brendon Todd, who made three birdies on the back nine in a 71.
Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA made three straight birdies in the middle of his 69 and tied for 21st, seventh-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England tied for 35th after making five birdies in a 70, while third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland sank a 72-foot eagle putt on the 10th hole in a 72 and tied for 47th.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard