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Cruel lip-out leaves Wyndham Clark one short of PLAYERS playoff

3 Min Read



    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – How did that putt not go in? It’s a question Wyndham Clark might ask himself for a while.

    After back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 Sunday at the 50th edition of THE PLAYERS Championship, Wyndham Clark faced that putt, 17 feet for birdie on the final hole of regulation to force a playoff with Scottie Scheffler, who was in the clubhouse at 20-under.

    The result is an addition to golf’s lore of oh-so-close closing moments.

    Clark had played a perfect drive down the right center of the fairway at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course’s par-4 18th hole, setting up a 173-yard approach toward a front-left hole location. His short iron tracked toward the flagstick but landed in the front fringe and came up 17 feet short of the hole, setting up that putt to force extra holes.

    That putt seemed perfect. But after the ball caught the hole’s left side and began to sink into the cup, it spun out with a horseshoe-shaped trajectory.

    Wyndham Clark’s heartbreaking lip-out on the 72nd hole at THE PLAYERS

    “I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in,” Clark said shortly afterward. “It was coming with some speed, too. It was kind of right-center with like a foot to go, and I knew it was going to keep breaking, but it had speed and I thought it was going to go inside-left, and even when it kind of lipped, I thought it would lip in. I’m pretty gutted it didn’t go in.”

    Just like that, Scheffler became the first player to successfully defend THE PLAYERS title. Clark tapped in for par, tying Xander Schauffele and Brian Harman for second place.

    Clark needed a moment to compose himself, his head in his hat, before exiting the green.

    “You finish second, you get a bunch of points and money and all that stuff, but it just sucks,” Clark said. “I've always wanted and dreamt about making a putt that really mattered to either force a playoff or win a tournament, and I have yet to do it in my professional career, so I was pretty bummed that I didn't have one of those really awesome moments.”

    Wyndham Clark risks it all to card clutch birdie at the island green at THE PLAYERS

    Clark has ascended into the world’s elite tier in the past year, winning last year’s Wells Fargo Championship and U.S. Open before carding a third-round 60 to win this year’s rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. THE PLAYERS would have been his fourth win in 10 months.

    After a bogey at No. 14, Clark needed late magic to force extra holes, and he nearly delivered. He made par on 15, then two-putted for birdie from 11 feet on 16; his eagle try just missed on the right edge. He played boldly to the back-right hole location on the island green par-3 17th, stuffing his tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the hole that played as Sunday’s most difficult.

    He did everything right across TPC Sawgrass' famed closing three holes, up until the final millimeters.

    “I'm still a little beside myself,” he said. “I'm still shocked that putt didn't go in.”

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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