The Wells Fargo Championship was the ninth of seventeen designated events during the 2022-23 PGA Tour season as play began Thursday morning. Players who finished in the top 20 of the 2022 Player Impact Program (PIP) are required to play in designated events. These specific players are allowed to miss only one of these events during the year.
An elite field of 16 of the top 20 World Ranked Golfers played in this week’s tournament. The winner received 500 FedEx Cup points along with the 1st Place prize of $3.600,000. Being a designated event the prize money for 2nd Place is $2,180,000, and 3rd Place is $1,380,000, The total purse is $20 million. This is a 122% increase in prize money from 2022 when Max Homa banked $1,620,000 for his victory.
The two top ranked players (1) Jon Rahm and (2) Scottie Scheffler did not play this week along with (8) Cameron Smith and (9) Will Zalatoris. The other top 20 ranked players were there including (3) Rory McIlroy who was playing for the first time since his early exit from the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
Heading into today’s final round were 13 of the top 16 world ranked players. Missing the cut after 36 holes were (10) Jordan Spieth +7, (13) Sam Burns E, and (14) Collin Morikawa +4. The leaderboard after 54 holes had (80) Wyndham Clark -16, (5) Xander Schauffele -14, (18) Tyrrell Hatton -11, and (41) Adam Scott -11. At one point yesterday there where 11 players tied for the lead.
The absence of any precipitation and prevailing winds from the SW at 11-14mph with 18-20mph gusts made todays fairways more adventurous and the greens more challenging. This will make the last three holes,1,223 yards of cruelty that’s referred to as the “Green Mile”, a punishing trio that just might go a long way in determining who will take home the $3,600,000 million today.
The final group teed off at 1:30 pm with little movement on the leaderboard from the earlier tee times. Clark bogeyed the par 4 1st to drop to -15. Justin Thomas -11 moves up to a tie for 3rd with 3 birdies on the first 7 holes. Schauffele -15 birdied the 3rd hole to move into a tie for 1st.
Thomas moved to -12 with his 4th birdie on the 8th. Schauffele birdied the par 5 7th to move into 1st place alone at -16. This was the first time Clark has lost the lead since Friday afternoon. Clark birdied the par 4 8th to fall back into a tie at -16. Schauffele bogeyed the par 4 9th to drop to -15.
The leaderboard as the last group heads to the 10th tee had (1) Wyndham Clark -16, (2) Xander Schauffele -15, (3) Adam Scott -12, (3) Sungjae Im -12 and (3) Tyrrell Hatton -12.
Clark extended his lead to -17 with a Birdie on the par 5 10th hole. Schauffele -14 dropped another shot on the par 4 11th. Hatton moved to 3rd on the leaderboard at -13 with a birdie on the par 3 13th. Clark -18 added to his lead with another birdie on the par 4 12th. It appeared that at this point in the championship that Wyndham Clark had everything working for him carrying a 4-shot lead into the final 5 holes.
Clark -19 continued his assault on both the field and the Quail Hollow Course with another birdie on the Par 4 14th. Schauffele -15 also birdied the 14th to remain 4 back. Both Clark -20 and Schauffele -16 birdied the par 5 15th. Both players started off the “Green Mile” with pars on the par 4 16thhole. Schauffele -15 bogeyed the par 3 17th hole to fall back 5 strokes with one hole to play. Clark -19 bogeyed the par 4 18th.
After 133 PGA events played, Wyndham Clark won his first PGA tournament. You might say it was well worth the wait as he picked up 500 FedEx points and 3.6 million dollars which is almost half of what he has won in his PGA career that started in 2019.
When asked about this being his first PGA Tour win and what kind of mental fortitude did this one take, Wyndham said, “ I choked up you know it’s it’s been a long five years to to get to this point on tour and you know I thought I would have had one earlier, but it was well worth the wait and I’m just you know so so grateful.”
Wyndham Clark took on 16 World Ranked Players at the Wells Fargo Championships and left them all heading back home talking to themselves. Quail Hollow Golf Course has proven once again that it’s a Championship venue that requires your best shots on every hole.
Schauffele picks up a 2nd place check for $2,180,000 while 3rd place finishers Harris English -12 and Tyrrell Hatton -12 will both receive a check for $1,180,000.
Wyndham Clark is the eighth first-time winner on the PGA Tour this season. Clearly there is no shortage of talent on the PGA Tour, But astute observers of the game know that newer players like Clark are filling the void left by established players who bolted for LIV Golf. At this point a year ago, five current LIV Golf players had accounted for seven PGA Tour wins.