Clark shoots 63, leads Schauffele by 2 shots on Wells Fargo | golf

CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — Wyndham Clark has never won on the PGA Tour.

This Sunday he wants to change that.

Clark shot an 8-under 63 at the Wells Fargo Championship on Saturday, giving him a two-shot lead over Xander Schauffele, who went into the final round. The Denver, Colorado native sits 16-under 197 for the tournament.

Schauffele, the fifth-ranked player in the world, shot 64 at Quail Hollow while playing alongside Clark. He’s under 14.

Adam Scott and round three co-leader Tyrrell Hatton are tied in third place at 11 under, five shots behind Clark. Tommy Fleetwood, Harris English and Sungjae Im are six beats off pace.

Defending champion Max Homa has shot 68 and is 8 under for the tournament.

Clark is within striking distance of the tournament’s 72-hole mark (in terms of par) of 21-under-267 set by Rory McIlroy in 2015. Back then, Quail Hollow was playing on par 72; it is now a par 71.

But for now, Clark would happily settle for his first win on tour.

“I’m excited to see how I handle the pressure,” Clark said. “It’s going to be a fun challenge. Of course it’s going to be tough, I’ve got one of the best players in the world right behind me and a few other good players. I’m really looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.”

At one point on Saturday there were 11 players tied for the lead.

Then Clark entered the course and shot 31 on the front nine and placed birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15. He hit his first 17 greens before his approach shot on No. 18 landed on the rim less than two inches from the green. He only needed 28 putts on Saturday, best in the field.

Nevertheless, Schauffele didn’t let Clark pull away.

Schauffele placed his 260-yard approach shot at No. 15 to within 27 feet to set up an eagle and then added a birdie on 16 to cut Clark’s lead to two.

He said seeing Clark play so well only inspired him to play better.

“Once these guys out here see someone doing it, they just end up doing it,” said Schauffele. “Like example when it’s really cold and rainy you feel like man I think 3 under would be a good score then someone shoots 7 under and then all of a sudden 3 under is like 30. So guys are really good out here . Monkey see, monkey do is definitely something that’s happening out here.”

Although he has never won, Clark’s rise up the rankings comes as no great surprise given his recent game. He has placed in the top six in three of his last five tournaments and has not missed a cut since last October’s Shriner’s Open.

Wyndham’s closest to victory came in 2020, when he lost to Brian Gay in a playoff at the Bermuda Championship. He said he’s a much better golfer now because he’s a lot stronger mentally.

Wyndham credits meditation and reading books to increase his mental focus for his improved game.

“I’d say it’s one of those parts of my game that I’ve worked on in the past, but this time I kind of went all out and said, ‘This is the final straw,'” Wyndham said. “So I did everything I could to work on the mental game.”

One of the books he has read is called The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.

“It was all about self-talk, positive self-talk and what that can do to your life and perspective,” Wyndham said. “I had many other books that I have read so far. I mean actually it’s more about trying to invest a lot more time on and off the golf course.”

Scott, who has won 14 times on the PGA Tour and 11 more on the European Tour, knows the pressure Clark feels and how daunting it can be to win your first tournament.

Scott said the key is to keep nerves under control.

“I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s how it felt,” Scott said of his own first career win. “You just have to do the same things that got you to this position in three days.”

Brendon Todd was one of the big climbers on Saturday, shooting a 65 to go 9 under.

McIlroy’s bid for a fourth win at Quail Hollow is essentially over after the third-ranked player in the world failed to make a move on Saturday and blasted an inconsistent 71 that left him 1-under for the tournament. McIlroy had previously won the event in 2010, 2015 and 2021.

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