2023 Valspar Championship leaderboard: Jordan Spieth one back of lead after wild putting day
The three-way tie came after the first 18 holes of the 2023 Valspar Championship with Stefan Jaeger, Ryan Brehm and Adam Schenk taking first place by up to 5. Despite each being a good player, the group has accumulated several legitimate problems. Namely the fact that some of the best golfers in the world are on the heels.
Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Thomas and Sam Burns are all three steps away from the lead. The trio all scored 2 under or better at Innisbruck on Thursday and all four are looking to their first wins in 2023. Spit was particularly strong with his stick to fall behind the top group advancing to the second round on Friday.
Let’s take a look at how the first round of Valspar went with a breakdown of the leaderboard after 18 holes.
1. Stefan Jaegar, Ryan Brehm, Adam Schenk (-5): More on Brem and his wild ace below, but let’s just say that this is not a trio of people who expected them to be at the top of this leaderboard after 18 holes. Combined, they are in the top 10 of the last 75 starts around the world. Not exactly a recipe for holding back a fistful of Ryder Cuppers for the next three days. Jaeger has the lowest chance of them all and hit the ball best on Thursday, finishing third in the game on the way. However, it would be surprising if anyone from this group lifted a trophy on Sunday.
T4. Jordan Spieth, Lucas Glover, Maverick McNeely (-4)
T7. Tommy Fleetwood, Ben Ahn, Alex Smalley, Patton Kizzir, Kramer Hickok (-3)
T12. Justin Thomas, Sam Burns, Davis Riley, Adam Hadwin (-2)
Spit had his best putting day since May 2021 when he hit over four greens in the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge. He topped four again on Thursday in Tampa, and after the round he discussed the unintended benefit of feeling more confident with his stick (not just today, but lately) and how that affects every other aspect of his game. This is an exciting thing.
“Being comfortable with speed control and with the stick in general, it allowed… I felt like I could play center field and not attack the pins,” said Spieth. “It’s a different place than I’ve lived since I’ve been trying to get better and better with the stick. So today, on holes like number 7, I didn’t hit any pins at all. I just went to the center of the green and said, I’ll hit 2 from 35 feet and move on and try to look at the last two.
“So this part released the fact that I didn’t hit a lot of fairways and then if I start, my hitting the ball [has] has been really strong, including without a t-shirt for the last month or so, and he just needs to pull himself up a bit. I didn’t feel like I did a great job in the last three days, and today I felt the same way. So hopefully [it] it only gets better every day.”
Shot of the day
Ryan Brehm aceed the 17th par-3 hole, considered one of the hardest holes on the course each year. At about 0.1 stroke over par, it was the sixth hardest at the time Brem made his. It was only the fourth ace on this hole in the history of the tournament, and he did it all looking like an absolute king.
“To be honest, I was a little surprised when I saw him fall into the hole,” Brem said, “but we got a good reaction. It was a lot of fun. and we had a wind that blew from the right. I think we had 189 to cover the leading edge and he probably flew almost 200 yards. So it was pretty funny to watch this thing seep in.”
Brem said that this is his fifth ace in his career (he is 99% sure), but the first in 15 years.
🚨 AC FOR RYAN BREM 🚨
Taking solo lead @ValsparChamp 5 down! pic.twitter.com/2HgayRToMa
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 16, 2023
Valspar 2023 Championship Betting Choice
Odds via bookmaker Caesars
- Jordan Sleep: 11/2
- Stefan Jaeger: 17/2
- Justin Thomas: 17/2
- Tommy Fleetwood: 19/2
- Maverick McNeely: 12-1
- Sam Burns: 12-1
Even though this leaderboard is at the top, the betting table is actually solid. I don’t know if I completely trust Spit at 11/2 and I probably prefer Fleetwood at 19/2 or Burns at 12-1. However, the guy that really intrigued me is Akshay Bhatia, who shot 1 under on Thursday, was leading the game on the way and is 125-1 win a golf tournament. At least worth a look!