Schenk grabs PGA Valspar lead with Spieth lurking

Adam Schenk, playing his 10th week in a row, shot two under par 69s to take a one shot lead after Friday’s PGA Valspar Championship second round.

The 31-year-old American, who tied for the 18-hole lead, was seven under 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 shots I took,” Schenk said. “We do a really good job of course management.”

Countryman Kramer Hickok, who was chasing his first PGA crown like Schenk, was second with 136 points behind a second windy 68 points.

Three-time major tournament winner Jordan Spieth, 2015 Valspar champion, scored 70 and tied for third out of 137 with fellow Americans Cody Gribble and Davis Riley, and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

“Like a day off approaching the green hit some pretty rusty wedges,” Spit said.

“To hit one less on this golf course in the wind is a good result, so I feel good in my position before the weekend.”

Schenk started with a birdie-birdie, flying seven feet out of the bunker and puttingt on the first par-5 hole, then lowering his approach three feet to set up a pull-off on the second.

After a three-strike bogey on third, Schenck countered with a 17-foot birdie on fifth pair 5 and added another 4 1/2-foot birdie on 12, before the closing scarecrow after finding a bunker at the green.

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

“It was another one of those rounds that could be equal to par. It was never 5 or 6 under, but we did well and are very happy with 2 under.”

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

“A boy will be born here in about a month and a half,” Schenk said. “So I try to score as many points as possible to take as much free time as possible and spend time with him and my wife, which will be special.”

Hickok hit three par-5 holes and made two birdies on par-3 holes with shots from 30 feet on fourth and just inside 40 feet on 15th.

“I laid everything down very nicely,” Hickok said. “I see the lines really well and take some good shots. I don’t really feel like I’m playing that well from the tee to the green, but I just keep the ball in front of me and score really well.”

Speth hit the first, fifth and 11th par-5 holes, but missed on the eighth par-3 and 10th par-4.

“Today I managed the ball, maybe the best this year. Gave myself a lot of chances using the wedges,” Spit said.

“I could not fully control the distance at some driving clubs. But when the wind is so gusty and the depth of field is so shallow, it becomes really difficult.”

– Patience and attitude –

Fleetwood, with 69 shots, is expecting a busy weekend, with storms predicted for Saturday.

“Patience and a good attitude” will be vital, Fleetwood said. “Just hang around and see what the day brings you.”

Stefan Jager of Germany, one of the leaders at 18 holes, threw 72 and stayed at 138, while the second leader from the USA at 18 holes, Ryan Brehm, was at 141 after 75.

American Sam Burns, who scored 73 points and remained in seventh place out of 142, could become the first player to win the same PGA tournament three years in a row since Steve Stricker at the 2009-2011 John Deere Classic.



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