Wyndham Clark, the reigning US Open champion, broke the course record at Pebble Beach on Saturday with his 12-under par third round of 60 at the PGA Tour’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Clark leads on 17-under 199 through 54 holes by a stroke from rising Swedish star Ludvig Aberg, who shot 67, with France’s Matthieu Pavon, winner at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, third on 201 after his 66.
But with rough storms expected on Sunday and early Monday, Clark may sit atop the leaderboard for some time after his outstanding round, which went so close to a rare sub-60 score.
Clark, who had already made two eagles in his round, needed a third on the par-5 18th to finish on 59 but his 26-foot putt stopped just inches short of the hole.
The 30-year-old American, who won twice on the PGA Tour last season, also saw birdie putts on the 16th and 17th both stop just short of the hole.
“I really didn’t think about it until I got to 18 tee box and when I did, I thought oh, my gosh, it would have been really nice to have one of those last two because then I only have to birdie 18,” Clark said.
“Once I hit the fairway on 18 I knew I was going to have a chance to hopefully try to shoot that special number. I gave it my best shot. Unfortunately, I left some putts short. I’m super happy with my round. Any time you shoot 12 under anywhere you’ve got to be happy.”
The previous course record of 62 was set by Tom Kite in 1983 and matched by fellow Americans David Duval in 1997 and Patrick Cantlay in 2021 plus Austrian Matthias Schwab in 2022.
Clark got off to a flying start with an eagle on the par-5 second, finding the green with his 200-yard approach then sinking a 39-foot putt.
He birdied the par-4 fourth and then produced his second eagle on the par-5 sixth, superbly draining a 42-foot putt.
Clark, taking advantage of slow greens, then made three birdies in a row to reach the turn in 28 strokes.
The birdie streak continued on the 10th and 11th before a setback on the par-3 12th, where he made bogey after finding the greenside bunker and rough before avoiding a double-bogey with a 26-foot putt from the fringe.
The push for 59 came back into sight with birdies on the 13th and 14th before his exceptional putting fell short.
He took an aggressive approach on the final hole, where he blasted his second onto the green and although his eagle effort failed he had the compensation of the record low score on the historic course.
“To have the course record at a place like this, you don’t even dream about stuff like this, really.” said Clark.
“I didn’t even visualize the day this good. It was honestly surreal.”
Weather permitting, he will face a challenge in the final round from Aberg, who shot his second straight bogey-free round, and in-form Pavon.
Aberg shot five birdies, including on the 18th where he left a 38 foot eagle putt just short.
Pavon became the first Frenchman to win on the modern US PGA Tour last week at Torrey Pines and continued his excellent form, making eight birdies, only slightly undone with bogeys on the par-3 fifth and the par-4 eighth.
Pavon, whose first DP World Tour win came in his 185th start at the Spanish Open in October, said it was difficult to fathom his recent improvement.
“It’s just I think a combination of many things,” he said. “Got better and better since I won my tournament back in Spain six months ago, then got my PGA Tour card and now I come to America with some confidence in myself and my game. I think that’s the key.”
Australian Jason Day shot the second best round with a 63, including an eagle on the par-4 11th where he found the rough off the tee but sank his second shot from 124 yards.