Moore causes a surprise, tops Spieth, Schenk at Innisbrook
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Taylor Moore delivered the clutch shots to get into the contest, finishing with a 4-under 67 and winning the Valspar Championship on Sunday when he avoided the errors that Jordan Spieth and Adam gift.
In just his second year on the PGA Tour, the 29-year-old, who grew up outside of Oklahoma City, heads to the Masters next month.
He was preparing for a playoff on the practice course and missed a wild finish on the Copperhead course in Innisbrook.
Spieth was tied for the lead when he hit the water on the 16th and managed to stay in the game, pacing from 163 yards to save Bogey. On the par-3 17th, which yielded only two birdies all day, Spieth hit the 4-iron at 6 feet – only to miss the birdie putt.
The real heartbreak belonged to Schenk, whose wife flew to Florida for the finals a month before the birth of their first child. Schenk potted a 70-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole. On the 16th and 17th holes, he made hard par saves to stay in a tie.
On the 18th, however, he shot his tee shot to the left. It was roughly the same line Moore had previously hit his tee shot on, only Schenk’s ball rolled through the gallery and came to rest next to a pine tree.
His only shot hit an inverted gap wedge with his left hand and it was a dandy who fired across the fairway into the rough. His third shot came just short of a ridge and rolled onto the rim 40 feet away. The par putt to force a jump off hit the hole but had too much pace and bounced.
Schenk, who is playing for the 10th straight week so he can take time off after the birth of his son, finished with a 70.
Spieth was entertaining as always. He made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14 to regain some of the lead with Schenk. But his worst shot of the day came at the worst time, the 16th hole with water on the right.
Spieth made a 15-foot bogey putt only to miss the big birdie chance on the next hole — nobody hit it closer than his shot all day — and then missed his approach to the 18th by about a foot, um reach the top shelf for a good look at Birdie. He missed a par putt worth FedEx Cup points and money on the 18th, signed for a 70 and tied for third place with Tommy Fleetwood.
Fleetwood (70) also had a hand in leading the back nine. His round was reversed on the par-5 14th when he hit the green in twos. He pulled it to the left and caught a brutal lie in the sand. He could only push that in the big bunker, blasting to about 15 feet and missing the par putt. He never caught up.
No one paid too much attention to Moore until the 29-year-old, playing in Arkansas, started hitting quality shot after quality shot. He stuffed his approach to 2 feet on No. 12 for a birdie.
He effectively won the tournament with a great shot and a great putt. On the par-3 15th, he aimed for the back right pin at 6ft and birdied to get within a shot of the lead. And then he potted a 25-foot birdie at #16 to put Schenk ahead.
Moore went up and down for par with a long bunker shot on the 17th, and on the 18th he made a two putt from about 70 feet right off the green to finish with a 10-under 274.
And then he won while warming up on the range for a playoff that never happened.
The win for Moore was worth $1,458,000 and placed him 9th in the FedEx Cup standings. Along with a trip to the Masters he might not have anticipated, he’s moving into the PGA Championship. He rose from No. 103 to just below the top 50 in the world.
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