2023 Wells Fargo Championship leaderboard, grades: Wyndham Clark secures first PGA Tour win
Clark finally had his breakthrough moment at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina
Count it as a day Wyndham Clark will forever cherish in his PGA Tour career. As the latest first-time winner on Tour Sunday, Clark propelled his way beyond No. 5 ranked Xander Schauffele for a four-stroke victory and accompanying $3.6 million paycheck at the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship.
Returning to its traditional home of Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte after a one-year relocation in 2022 -- Quail Hollow hosted the Presidents Cup last year -- the Wells Fargo Championship has been a launching pad for some of the game's biggest names in previous years, and Clark now joins the list of first-time Tour winners at Quail Hollow. He followed up a dazzling 8-under 63 in Saturday's third round with a 3-under 68 Sunday to secure the milestone moment in his professional career.
"It has been a long few years to get [a win] on Tour," Clark told CBS. "I would have thought I would get one here or there [already]. But it was well worth the wait. I am just so grateful."
Clark's round began on a bit of a bumpy note with a bogey on the par-5 1st, but he was unfazed the rest of the way. The first hole was his lone bogey of the round, and Clark held steady while making some key birdies at key moments. His round included an 3-under 33 on the back nine to finish off a 19 under for the event. It marks the lowest score at the Wells Fargo Championship since 2015, when Rory McIlroy set a tournament record at 21 under, and Clark says it's a testament to his increased mental toughness.
"Well, definitely the mental side of it," Clark added. "I did not hit it as well as yesterday. I didn't make as many putts as maybe the day before. But mentally, I was super strong. I didn't start off great. I was super shaky. I think in years past, I might have folded. This time, I just stayed patient there and then I caught fire on the back [nine]."
Clark arrived at Quail Hollow with only four top finishes since turning professional in 2017. That included a playoff loss at the Bermuda Championship in 2020. But a course where plenty of breakthroughs have been made proved to be the site of Clark's own. McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Max Homa are notables whose notched their first tour wins at the Wells Fargo Championship, and Clark now joins some well-respected company. Grade: A+
2. Xander Schauffele: He'll take a runner-up finish heading into the PGA Championship, but it's going to be easy to think about what could have been this week at Quail Hollow, and that applies to more than one round. Schauffele led by two strokes well into the back nine of his opening round Thursday, but his 5-under 66 that afternoon featured two bogeys in the final three holes that cost him that edge.
Schauffele didn't let the bumpy final few holes Thursday faze him, carding a 2-under 69 Friday before firing an impressive 7-under 64 Saturday in which Schauffele played holes Nos. 14-16 a combined 4 under, securing his spot in the final pairing Sunday. But Sunday's 2 under start through eight holes was quickly negated with bogeys on the par-4 9th and par-4 11th, and par on the par-5 10th was also a missed opportunity to get one back. Back-to-back birdies finally came on the par-4 14th and par-5 15th, but Clark also did as much on those two holes to preserve the lead and give himself enough insurance.
The focus now turns to Oak Hill Country Club -- Schauffele won't play at the AT&T Byron Nelson next week -- where Schauffele seeks his first major title later this month at the 2023 PGA Championship. Schauffele last emerged a winner last July at the Genesis Scottish Open, and his runner-up finish Sunday ties his best of the season (The Players Championship). Grade: A
T3. Tyrrell Hatton (-12): An overall strong week for Hatton, who finished under par in all four of his rounds at Quail Hollow. Provided his starting position going into the final round, a 1-under 70 might sting a bit for the 31-year-old Hatton. Nonetheless, it's his fourth top-10 finish of the season, with all four coming in a span of two months. It could be only a matter of time before Hatton gets the second PGA Tour victory of his career. Grade: A-
T8. Max Homa (-9): A repeat wasn't in the cards for Homa, but he did put a nice -- albeit quiet -- closing touch on his weekend. The world No. 7 ranked golfer played the Green Mile a combined 2 under to salvage a 1-under 70 in the final round. That gives Homa his fifth top-10 finish of the season. He bookended his stay at Quail Hollow with 70s, carding a 4-under 67 in the second round and a 3-under 68 in the third round. All things considered, a nice rebound for Homa after he missed cuts in his previous two starts. Grade: B
T14. Justin Thomas (-8): Thomas made serious noise early in his round Sunday with a 4-under 31 on the front nine to reach 12 under, putting him alone in third place; however, it was a tale of two nines. Thomas surrendered that progress with a 4-over 40 on the back nine. Thomas was only a shot off the lead at 7 under entering the weekend before playing the past two rounds a combined 1 under, posting an even par 71 on Sunday. He still hasn't prevailed in a tournament since the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills last May, putting Thomas at risk of going more than a year without a victory if he doesn't repeat as champion in two weeks. Grade: B
T.47 Rory McIlroy (E): McIlroy reached the weekend, barely, but that was about the only positive for world No. 3 ranked golfer, who made his first start since a missed cut at The Masters in April. The three-time winner at the Wells Fargo Championship (2010, 2015, 2021) was unable to make any magic happen over the final two rounds, carding an even-par 71 Saturday before a 1-over 72 Sunday sent him to an even-par finish for the tournament. McIlroy's final round saw him reach 2 under for the day after an eagle on the par-5 10th, but he went 3 over the rest of the way with bogeys on three of his final five holes. This is a missed chance for McIlroy to get his mojo back before Oak Hill rolls around. Grade: C-
MC. Jordan Spieth: Not the performance Spieth hoped at Quail Hollow after entering with the fifth-best odds to win. He appeared to have something going during the back nine of the opening round when he carded three consecutive birdies to reach 2 under, but it fell apart with a triple-bogey on the par-4 18th before a 6-over 77 the next day sent Spieth packing. Spieth posted top-five finishes in each of his last three stroke-play events before his early exit in Charlotte. It's now onto the Dallas native's hometown event, the AT&T Byron Nelson, where he was the runner-up last May. Grade: F
To the 18th
This one appears all but wrapped up as Wyndham Clark holds a five-stroke lead heading to the 18th tee box. We're on the brink of a first-time winner on the PGA Tour at Quail Hollow, and 20 under for the event heading into the final hole is quite the feat.
Clark reaches -20
When it's your day, it's your day. That appears to be the case for Wyndham Clark, at least, who won't give up any ground on his lead over Xander Schauffele. The two both card birdies on the par-4 14th and par-5 15th. Now it's on to the toughest test of the day -- The Green Mile -- that will determine if we get any fireworks late at Quail Hollow.
Tough finish for Justin Thomas
Thomas threatened earlier in the day as he moved into third place alone with a 4-under 31 on the front nine. But a 4-over 40 on the back nine puts him even for the day as he finishes the event at 8 under. He stuck it close on the par-4 18th but could not get the birdie putt to drop. The reigning PGA Championship winner heads to Oak Hill seeking his first victory since his triumph at Southern Hills last May. Meanwhile, Clark's edge over Schauffele remains at four strokes with as many holes to play.
Clark's lead grows
Make it a four-stroke lead for Wyndham Clark in pursuit of his first PGA Tour victory. Quite the par save on the par-4 11th after a tee shot lands in the trees before Clark, after getting a member's bounce on the approach, gets the breaker to fall for birdie on the par-4 12th. We obviously still have the 'Green Mile' stretch looming, but Clark is in control of this thing.