[PHOTO: Ezra Shaw]

Virtually all of golf’s greatest players have toured the Pebble Beach Golf Links in its 105-year history. A few of the game’s gods have won there. None of them pulled off what reigning US Open champion Wyndham Clark did today.

In calm and cool conditions on the Monterey Peninsula ahead of what is expected to be a huge storm on the final day, Clark went out well ahead of the leaders and set a stunning pace on his way to a cherished piece of history. With the field playing preferred lies because of soggy conditions, the 30-year-old from Colorado made two eagles and six birdies over this first 11 holes, suffered one hiccup with a bogey at 12, and made three more birdies the rest of the way to shooting 12-under par 60.

That number eclipsed the professional competition course record at Pebble Beach by two shots and the overall competitive record of 61, set by current DP World Tour player Hurley Long in the 2017 collegiate Carmel Cup.

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Incredibly, Clark, who holds the clubhouse lead at 17-under, had a good chance to set the all-time professional scoring record of 57, but he came up inches short on birdie putts on the 16th and 17th holes. At the iconic par-5 18th, he reached the green on his second shot with an iron and watched as his 26-foot eagle putt for 59 lose speed just before reaching the hole.

“Man, I didn’t even visualise it being this good,” Clark said. “It was honestly surreal. To start as good as I did, and you kind of get in the zone, and you get to the back nine and start thinking about 59. I’m honestly really proud of how I played, and to shoot a score like I did on this golf course is pretty special.”

Clark said he didn’t truly think about scoring 59 until he got to the 18th tee, when another thought hit him: “Oh my gosh. If I had just had three inches in my last two putts, I would have been 13-under going into 18… For me to pipe my drive [at 18] thinking all of that, to have a chance to shoot 59 with that putt was pretty special.”

Clark opened the third round of the $US20 million PGA Tour signature event by tying the front-nine course record of 28. He eagled both par 5s, the second and sixth, and made birdies at third, seventh, eighth and ninth. He kept up the hot run, running his streak to five straight with birdies on 10 and 11.

His only big trouble came at the par-3 12th, where Clark faded his tee shot into a plugged lie in the right bunker. He blasted out to there from an awkward lie above another bunker and chose to turn over his club and make the pitch left-handed. The result was poor, leaving Clark a 25-foot bogey putt from the fringe – and he drained it on a day when he made four putts longer than 24 feet.

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Clark said bounce-back opportunities have been a focus for him, and he responded by making birdies at the 13th and 14th to get back to 11-under for the round with four holes to play.

A wayward tee shot at the 16th looked to be in big trouble in the left rough, but Clark ended up getting a drop into a much better lie, thanks to a nearby animal burrowing hole. His approach gave him 10 feet for birdie, but the putt came up an inch short of the hole.

There was a similar result at Pebble’s great par-3 17th, with Clark hitting to 14 feet, but coming up just short of the birdie.