Weekend Wrap: Clark And Meronk Win, Lee And Phil Grovel, The Great Don January Passes
A busy week on and off the course includes a deep dive into the meaning of a "d!*k move" and more.
Today’s Quad features recaps of the Wells Fargo and Italian Open, a look at the life of influencer-before-they-were-a-thing Don January, Lee Westwood’s European Tour exit interview, a family-unfriendly analysis of “d!*k move” in light of Phil Mickelson’s repeated invocation of the term, Jay Monahan’s latest comments on distance, and notes from elsewhere in golf.
All of this and more with just ten days until balls are in the air at Oak Hill!
Clark Captures First Win In The Wells Fargo
Wyndham Clark picked up his first PGA Tour victory in style by setting a Wells Fargo tournament record in a four stroke win over Xander Schauffele. Clark dominated a “designated event” leaderboard that included Harris English, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Adam Scott (who registered his first top five since the 2022 BMW).
“It’s surreal,” said the 29-year-old who entered the week ranked 80th in the world. “I've dreamt about this since I was probably 6 years old.”
Clark has been trending with four top-six finishes in his last six starts. Sunday’s final-round 68 is his PGA Tour-leading 35th round in the 60s this season.
“Obviously today I wasn't perfect,” Clark said. “But I kept telling myself, honestly, I've had multiple texts between my caddie or coaches or mentors, whatever saying, hey, you don't have to be perfect today, you just have to get the ball in the hole and stay patient and really stay in the present. I felt like I did a good job of that.”
While Clark has made only two cuts in five majors, the Colorado native is primed in all the best ways heading to Oak Hill next week. He led the Wells Fargo field in Strokes Gained Approach by hitting 58 of 72 greens. Clark ended up third in Strokes Gained Putting and finished the week averaging 312.2 yards for all drives and 321.0 on the measuring holes.
With the victory Clark also picked up one of three Open Qualifying Series spots on offer and will be headed to Hoylake.
“I love going to play links golf, so I'm real excited playing it,” Clark said.
He will be joined by Michael Kim and Denny McCarthy, the latter emerging from a T8 tie with Brendan Todd and earning the spot based on a higher world ranking.
The final round highlights:
Meronk Adds To His Ryder Cup Case
Adrian Meronk held off Frenchmen Romain Langasque and Julien Guerrier with a final hole birdie to win the DM Automobiles Italian Open by a stroke.
His third career win and growing stature should have the 29-year-old well positioned to make a Rome return in September.
Marco Simone Golf Club hosts the 2023 Ryder Cup.
“It was amazing, very special,” Meronk said in response to a question about his father Andrew watching him win for the first time in person. “I started golf because of him and it’s super special for him, so I am very happy that he was here with me today, so now it’s time for my mother, so we will see!”
Regarding the chances of becoming Poland’s first Ryder Cup team member, Meronk moves to 5th on the European Points list.
“I think it is a solid statement, a solid brick in the wall,” he said. “It’s not over yet, I know that, there is still a lot of time, and I am super excited. It is one of my big goals this year and it would mean a lot to me, so I will keep pushing and keep doing what I can to get on the team but I think this should help.”
Meronk made clear he was auditioning for inclusion on a team that’ll be searching for fresh faces after last week’s DP World Tour resignations ended the historic Ryder Cup careers of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.
“It was definitely on my mind coming here, performing well in front of Luke [Donald, European Captain],” Meronk said. “I think it might help but there's still a lot of time left.”
Other notable performances for Donald: a fifth place finish for Nicolai Hojgaard that included a final round 65 and a T9 for Victor Perez.
Final round highlights:
R.I.P. Don January
Before we get to the bratty, whiny ways of guys who chased easy dirty money and are constantly unhappy about their plight, it’s required reading to spend some time on the life and times of Don January.
The sweet-swinging Texas legend passed away Sunday at 93. What a career:
The 1967 PGA Champion
10-time PGA Tour winner
2-time Ryder Cupper
22-time Senior Tour winner
3-time NCAA (team) champion
Style boundary-pusher who pulled off Sansabelts, bucket caps and collars up long before anyone else then or now.
Championed the end of the PGA of America’s discriminating “caucasion only” clause
Key figure in starting the PGA Tour Champions.
Stylish golf swing well into his 60s.
What January was most proud of, Tim January remembered, was winning the Vardon Trophy for low stroke average in 1976 when he was 46 years old.
“He was a good ol’ Texas boy,” Tim January said. “He never took himself seriously.”
January was a pro golf pioneer. Tim January mentioned three developments that his father had a hand in.
He was involved in the PGA Tour striking the “Caucasian race clause” from the Tour’s constitution in 1961, allowing Black members to play in Tour events.
He was part of the leadership of players who split from the PGA of America to create the PGA Tour.
He was instrumental in the development of what is now known as the PGA Tour Champions.
“If it weren’t for my father and a handful of guys, there wouldn’t be a PGA Tour or a Senior PGA Tour,” Tim January said.
Check out this Pathe highlight of January’s lone major win, the 1967 PGA over Don Massengale at Columbine CC and doing it in Sansy’s!
Okay, now on to whiny millionaires who just can’t get their way all the time…
Westwood: Ryder Cup Experience Lost All Because “The tour has gone into bed with the PGA Tour”
We’ll get to the flashing red irony alert eventually. But first a few notable quotes from Lee Westwood’s exclusive interview with The Telegraph’s James Corrigan that ran Friday after the longtime DP World Tour member paid his fine and resigned (only the duplicitous Sergio Garcia—of course—has refused to pay).
“People say I knew exactly what would happen, but nobody told us the extent of the punishments,” Westwood told the Telegraph. “And they continue to do that. The way I view it is that, as a European Tour member, I was allowed to be a member of the PGA Tour without any problem for all those years. Tell me, what is the difference? Just because LIV is funded by the Saudis – a country where my tour used to play and where we were encouraged to play?”
All fair points and you were compensated appropriately for the inconvenience of taking money and the accompanying baggage with it from sleazebags.
As for the Ryder Cup, Westwood offered this.
“I don’t want to talk about other LIV players who might not be eligible anymore, but there will be so much experience lost now, all because the tour has gone into bed with the PGA Tour. That’s not the way it was. And not the way I think it should be. Like I said, it’s time for me to move on.”
Perhaps he’s forgotten the reason the DP World Tour jumped “in the sack” with the PGA Tour: to fend off a threat from folks with an endless supply of money and very large swords they use to behead people with when they feel like it?
Defining A D!*k Move
The Google alerts piled up after Phil Mickelson thrice labeled the USGA’s 2023 U.S. Open exemption criteria tweak “just a d!*k move.”
So I did what all adults of a certain vintage will do and went over to the Urban Dictionary for the etymological clarification.
Mickelson used the phrase repeatedly in replies to reinforce that (A) he has a lot of free time on his hands and, (B) he is definitely not in any way whatsoever projecting.