March 1st, 2024

Clark declared Pebble Beach winner with final round wiped out by weather

By Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press on February 4, 2024.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Wyndham Clark was declared the winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday evening when the PGA Tour cancelled the final round because of wicked weather conditions that would linger into the next day and cause safety concerns.

Clark’s final stroke was a two-putt birdie from 25 feet on Saturday, giving him a course record 12-under 60 and a one-shot lead over Ludvig Aberg, who missed a long eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole.

Clark never had to hit another shot.

Overnight rain saturated Pebble Beach, and raging wind that followed led the PGA Tour to postpone the final round with hopes of playing on Monday.

The storm, known as an “atmospheric river” that pounded California for the second time, was to linger into Monday morning. While conditions were expected to improve, Monterey County emergency officials had urged residents to stay home.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all constituents, there will be no play on Monday,” the PGA Tour said in declaring the tournament 54 holes and Clark the winner.

Clark picked up his third win in the last nine months, all of them big with a $3.6 million payoff. He also won the Wells Fargo Championship and his first major at the U.S. Open last year at Los Angeles County Club.

But it was a dreary start to the PGA Tour’s new season of “signature events” on network television. Pebble Beach, among the most famous courses in the world, had its strongest field in decades. CBS was prepared for a telecast with the NFL not playing ahead of the Super Bowl.

And then there was no golf.

Nearly an inch of rain overnight saturated Pebble Beach, which had received overnight rain going into Thursday and Friday. The rain cleared on Sunday, pushed by gusts that approached 60 m.p.h. and topped portable toilets and fences and ripped tarps away from TV towers. Also felled was a camera used for the ShotLink data collection.

Under PGA Tour guidelines, the final round could not have started on Monday if there was no chance of finishing it. Gary Young, the chief referee, had said that a “drop dead time” to start would be 10:15 a.m. to be able to finish.

The decision came after consultation with Monterey County. Highway signs during the day recommended no travel until Monday night because of the severe weather.

Clark finished at 17-under 199.

He became the fifth player – all of them major champions – to win Pebble Beach over 54 holes since AT&T became title sponsor in 1986. The others were Dustin Johnson in 2009, Payne Stewart in 1999, Phil Mickelson in 1998 and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1986.

Stewart also birdied his final hole on Saturday the year the final round was wiped out by rain and a storm system that stretched from the Monterey Peninsula to Japan.

Clark is the first 54-hole winner on the PGA Tour since Brian Stuard in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2016.

Pebble Beach was not a felicitous meeting of land and sea. Instead, it was an angry one. Golf Channel posted images of wild-blown waves crashing off the rocks on the 18th, the ocean spray going over the bunker and onto the fairway.

The PGA Tour already had been determined spectators would not be allowed if golf had been played Sunday. All tournament facilities at Pebble Beach remained closed.

Clark had said Saturday afternoon he was aware of the forecast. He started the third round six shots out of the lead when he set the course record with 60.

“I definitely thought about it last night and this morning with everyone saying how bad the weather’s going to be,” he 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.”

Matthieu Pavon of France finished third with a birdie on the last hole Saturday. Pavon was coming off a victory at Torrey Pines and his finish at Pebble moves him to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup. The season is five tournaments old, but it’s no less amazing. Pavon last year birdied his last four holes to get the last of 10 PGA Tour cards offered to European tour players.

Mark Hubbard and Thomas Detry tied for fourth and each earned 312.5 points toward the FedEx Cup, more than a runner-up finish is worth in a regular tournament.

Neither would have been eligible for Pebble Beach except the tour had to dip below 60th in last year’s FedEx Cup to fill the field to 80 players because there were 80 amateurs for the opening two rounds.

AP golf:

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