Rules issue was part of Wyndham Clark’s Pebble win. He shares his side

Wyndham Clark

Wyndham Clark hits a shot on Saturday on the 13 hole at Pebble Beach.

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Sixty! A record! At freaking Pebble Beach! An eventual victory! At the Pebble Beach Pro-Am! They’re calling that event ‘signature,’ you know!

But, but, but! All that gets an asterisk! Just look at that pic of Wyndham Clark and the scorecard! The yellow sticker says it all! What if that rule weren’t in play???

And back and forth it goes, though there are maybe more shots taken here than there were by Clark on Saturday as he journeyed Pebble’s 18 at a never-before-seen clip. 

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Fair questions. Though maybe the man of the hour himself has a thought.

It goes without saying that Clark had had at least some afternoon at the renowned track. During the Pro-Am’s third round, he:

— Shot a front-nine 28. Only three folks had done that previously at the event, according to stats guru Justin Ray. Included in Clark’s score were 150 feet, 10 inches of putts made. Ray also reported that that total was the most by a pro on the front nine at the event over the past 20 years — by 24 feet, 7 inches.

— Flirted with the PGA Tour’s record for single-round score. On the back nine, he birdied 10, 11, 13, 14 and 18. But he also bogeyed 12. And putts on 16, 17 and 18 came up inches short. A 59 was in play. So was a 58, which only one Tour player has achieved. No one has fired a 57. 

— He finished with a 12-under 60. That will stand as the best ever at Pebble Beach

— He won the tournament. The round bumped him all the way into the lead — and it stood when storms washed out the final round completely

And that’s actually a nice segue. Rain is part of this story.   

Pebble had gotten some water — and, consequently, for all three rounds, the Tour made the rules call to play under ‘preferred lies,’ or lift, clean and place, meaning, yes, if a pro’s ball was in the fairway, they could lift the ball up, clean it and then place it back down within a club length of where it was, but no closer to the hole. In short, it’s advantageous.  

And there’s some pause with that. Some concern. Notably, the Tour also places stickers on players’ scorecards when ‘preferred lies’ is in play, and there Clark was on Saturday, smiling for a PGA Tour social media camera, holding his card that had a yellow sticker attached that read: “Preferred Lies. Model Local Rule E-3 in effect for this round only.”

So here we are. And there Clark was Sunday night, giving a winner’s press conference. He was about to go to the Tap Room at Pebble Beach to toast his win, when a reporter wondered this:

“Going back to yesterday’s round, does the fact that it was preferred lies, does that diminish your accomplishment in any way in your mind?”

Clark had some thoughts. 

“You know, anytime there’s preferred lies obviously, you know, it’s — you know, it’s not the purest — it’s not golf at its purest. But I don’t know if you were out here or not, but the golf course was so saturated, there was no other way to play golf this week other than doing preferred lies. 

“With that said, any winner on the PGA Tour, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting preferred lies from everywhere or if you’re teeing the ball up from the middle of the fairway, it’s still the best players in the world playing against each other on the same golf course in the same conditions and it’s hard. It’s hard to win out here, it doesn’t matter the conditions.” 

Yeah, the golf wasn’t “pure.”

Yeah, the golf was still “hard.”

Seeing both sides? Yeah. Answering sincerely? Yeah, that, too. 

We’ll end with this. With how Clark had spent his Sunday. With how he reacted after hearing that he was the winner after 54 holes. It may tell you something more about how he feels about his victory, his record. To note, the Tour had first notified players that the final round was just delayed. Then they were told it would be played Monday. Later Sunday, the Tour scrapped that plan and called off the rest of the tournament.  

Clark waited. He said he woke up at 2 a.m. The house had been hot. He took a look outside. Nasty. He fell back asleep. Woke up a couple hours later. Learned the delay news. Later found about the postponement. He ate. Watched a movie. Played some cards. Played pingpong with a friend.  

Wyndham Clark, John Ellis
‘Biggest thing for me’: Wyndham Clark thanks 1 club change for Pebble record
By: Nick Piastowski

Let’s stay with that. This is good. 

His buddy was his sophomore year English teacher. He’s competitive. Tried pro basketball for a bit. Good tennis player. There was a natural connection. Clark said he’s been a mentor. 

A bitter foe, too.

“And so we were playing pingpong,” Clark said. “And we’ve done this forever with the 15-year rivalry and battle where we battled each other and we keep a running tally. We honestly were having a lot of fun. It was about an hour, hour and 15 minutes in, to where we were both sweating, when I got the call. We both kind of broke out in tears a little bit and hugged each other and embraced each other that wow, it kind of caught us off guard, to be honest. 

“Yeah, so we went from having a lot of fun to then, you know, crying tears of joy to laughing to celebrating and it’s been a whirlwind since.” 

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at