March 31, 2023
Schenk takes PGA Valspar lead with Spieth on the prowl

Schenk takes PGA Valspar lead with Spieth on the prowl

Adam Schenk, playing for the 10th straight week, shot a 2-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Valspar PGA Championship on Friday.

The 31-year-old American, who shared the 18-hole lead, was at 7-under-par 135 after 36 holes at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida.

“It really couldn’t have been much better with the number of putts I made,” Schenk said. “We are doing a very good job managing the courses.”

His compatriot Kramer Hickok, seeking his first PGA crown as Schenk, was second in 136 after a 68 second in windy conditions.

Three-time Grand Slam winner Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Valspar champion, shot a 70 to share third place in 137 with fellow Americans Cody Gribble and Davis Riley, plus England’s Tommy Fleetwood.

“Bad day approaching the greens, he hit the wedges pretty rusty,” Spieth said.

“Shooting a low one on this windy golf course is a good score, so I feel good about my position going into the weekend.”

Schenk made a birdie-birdie start, shooting out of a bunker seven feet and sinking the putt on the first par-5 hole then dropped his approach to within three feet to set up a bunt on the second.

After a three-putt bogey on the third, Schenk responded with a 17-foot birdie putt on the par-5 fifth and added another 4 1/2-foot birdie on the 12th before a closing bogey after finding a bunker. next to the green

“I had better control of my golf ball,” Schenk said. “I made some putts, had some good stops for par that really hold the round together.

“It was another one of those rounds that could have been even even. It never would have been 5 or 6 under, but we handled it well and were very happy at 2 under.”

Schenk, whose best PGA finish was third at the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open, is keeping busy ahead of the birth of his son next month.

“Have a baby here in a month and a half,” Schenk said. “So I try to make as many points as I can to take as much time off as possible and spend time with him and my wife, which will be very special.”

Hickok birdied three par-5 holes and birdied two par-3 holes with putts from 30 feet on the fourth and just inside 40 feet on the 15th.

“I’ve been putting in really well,” Hickok said. “I see the lines very well and make good putts. I don’t really feel like I’m playing that well from tee to green, just keeping the ball in front of me and actually scoring quite well.”

Spieth birdied the par-5 first, fifth and 11th holes, but bogeyed the par-3 eighth and par-4 10th.

“I drove the ball maybe the best of the year today. I gave myself a lot of chances with some wedges,” Spieth said.

“I couldn’t control the distance on some scoring clubs. But when the wind here is gusty and the depth of the green is so small, it gets really tricky.”

– Patience and attitude –

Fleetwood, who shot 69, is expecting a tense weekend with thunderstorms forecast for Saturday.

“Patience and having a good attitude” will be vital, Fleetwood said. “Just hanging around and seeing what the day throws at you.”

German Stephan Jaeger, co-leader through 18 holes, shot 72 to move to 138, while American co-leader over 18 holes, Ryan Brehm, was at 141 after a 75.

American Sam Burns, who shot 73 to go seven adrift at 142, could become the first player to win the same PGA event three consecutive years since Steve Stricker at the 2009-2011 John Deere Classic.


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