Why Wyndham Clark passed on LIV Golf — for now

Wyndham Clark smiles at Pebble Beach.

Wyndham Clark says he was offered a deal with LIV Golf this offseason.

Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Sunday could have been a dream final round for the PGA Tour.

Stacked field. Historic and dramatic setting. The first Sunday since August on which the final round of a Tour event did not have to compete with the NFL.

But Mother Nature had other plans. A brutal storm wreaked havoc on the Monterey Penninsula, initially postponing the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to Monday before canceling it all together.

Pouring salt on the wound, many fans turned to the only other golf on TV in the Tour’s absence: LIV Golf from sunny Mexico.

But late Sunday night, when the PGA Tour officially called off the final round of one of its $20 million Signature Events, it brought its latest champion to the mic, and the champion brought a win for the Tour.

Wyndham Clark is not a new winner to professional golf. He arrived in earnest last year when he got his first win at the Wells Fargo Championship and then held off Rory McIlroy just over a month later to win the U.S. Open.

Like many of theTour’s top stars these days, that meant Clark was presented with a choice during the offseason.

“I definitely met with LIV and went through those discussions,” Clark said Sunday night. “I wanted to see what they could bring to the table.”

Like LIV’s prized signee from this past winter, Jon Rahm, Clark had a safety net. Since he won a major in 2023, he had exemptions into all four majors for the next five years. He could play wherever he wanted, largely unencumbered by his Official World Golf Ranking.

PGA Tour cancels Pebble Beach final round, Wyndham Clark declared winner
By: Jack Hirsh

So why, instead of taking big upfront money like Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton did to join LIV, was Clark waiting out a storm delay at Pebble Beach where he was playing for “just” $3.6 million?

“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,” Clark said Sunday. “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 ultimately, I chose my legacy over LIV and that’s really what it came down to.”

Speaking of records, in the third round Clark made over 150 feet of putts on the front nine en route to tying the nine-hole scoring record at Pebble Beach with a 28. He finished his day by breaking both the tournament and competitive course records at the fabled links with a 60.

Clark collected nearly 76 OWGR points from his Pebble win, one of the highest-ever totals from a non-major/Players Championship. He’s now up to No. 6 in the world, the highest mark of his career.

Clark did what he imagined growing up. He won a PGA Tour event, his third in the last nine months, cementing himself among the world’s top players.

None of which is to say his LIV decision was an easy one.

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

“I felt like if I was going to make a life-changing decision, I wanted to make sure I did all the right things and call the right people, get the right information, understand what both tours are doing, what I should do, et cetera,” he said.

He credited the PGA Tour’s player directors for making sure the Tour is “going to make the right moves” and offering him counsel when he approached. Clark said he talked to players “on both sides.”

“Ultimately it came down to talking with close people in my camp and my team of what we should do and we decided to stay on the PGA Tour,” he said.

Choosing between LIV and the PGA Tour isn’t as cut and dried as it was one year or even seven months ago. The Tour finalized an agreement with the Strategic Sports Group last week to inject up to $3 billion in the Tour’s commercial operations.

That also left open the opportunity for future investment in the Tour by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, the parent of LIV Golf. What that means for the future of LIV Golf and players being able to compete on both tours? No one knows for sure yet.

That’s why Clark’s commitment to the Tour comes with an important caveat.

“I don’t know what the future holds with my career and what the PGA Tour and LIV is going to do,” Clark said. “But at least for this season I am 100 percent set on the PGA Tour, and I want to try to get to as high in the world as I possibly can.”

Exit mobile version