[PHOTO: Ezra Shaw]

Wyndham Clark was declared the winner of the storm-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am after the tournament was called off after 54 holes of play. According to Clark, only 54 holes of play could have been his competitive reality this year.

After the Ryder Cup last October, Clark and his team were rumoured to be in negotiations with LIV Golf for the 2024 season, and those rumblings increased in volume after the departure of Jon Rahm to the Saudi-backed circuit in December. But LIV just hosted its season-opening event in Mexico last weekend and Clark was not among the fledgling league’s ranks. Word among the golf cognoscenti was that LIV’s financial proposal fell short of the ballpark Clark’s team had in mind and that LIV baulked at Clark’s counter-offer.

Stop playing swing and start playing golf

As the sport has seen during the past two years, there’s not always truth at the heart of the ever-present smoke from the game’s civil war. Yet, speaking to the media after the final round at Pebble Beach was cancelled, Clark acknowledged his interest in LIV Golf. But to Clark, it wasn’t a money discrepancy that kept him from defecting.

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

Clark nodded to conversations with other tour pros in helping him make his decision, while saying the work of some of tour’s top players gave him guidance on what to do.

“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,” Clark said. “I honestly have to give a huge ‘hat’s off’ to Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth because they have put so much effort – and Tiger Woods, sorry, and Tiger Woods, please put that in there. They put so much effort in making sure that the PGA Tour is going to make the right moves to continue to try to be the best tour. And they also really gave me some great advice and some counsel. I didn’t want them to sway me in a certain way, but I definitely wanted their counsel and I just wanted to honour them and the amount of time and work and effort they have put into this agreement now with SSG and where the tour is going.”

Clark added he did not know what his future holds, only promising that he plans on staying with the PGA Tour for the rest of 2024. The 30-year-old is up to sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking thanks to a major championship and two signature event victories in the past nine months.