Schenk takes PGA Valspar lead while Spieth lurks

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

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

“It really couldn’t have been much better with the amount of putts I was making,” said Schenk. “We’re doing a really good job of administering the courses.”

Compatriot Kramer Hickok, who like Schenk is chasing his first PGA crown, finished second with 136 after a second 68 in windy conditions.

Three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Valspar champion, fired a 70 and tied for third place with 137 with fellow Americans Cody Gribble and Davis Riley and England’s Tommy Fleetwood.

“Kind of a bad day as I approached the greens, hit some pretty rusty wedges,” Spieth said.

“Scoring a goal in the wind on this golf course is a good result so I feel good about my position going into the weekend.”

Schenk made a birdie-birdie start, blasting out of a bunker at seven feet and sinking the putt on the first par-5 hole, then dropping his approach to within three feet to set up a tap-in on the second.

After a three-putt bogey on the third, Schenk responded with a 17-foot birdie putt on the par-5 fifth, adding another birdie from 4 1/2 feet on the 12th before finding a finishing bogey after he had found a green bunker.

“I had a better grip on my golf ball,” said Schenk. “Had made a few putts, had some nice saves for par which really ties the round together.

“It was another one of those rounds that could even have been par. It would never have been 5 or 6 under but we managed well and are very happy with 2 under.”

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

“Having a little boy here in about a month and a half,” Schenk said. “So I’m trying to get as many points as I can to take as much time as I can and spend time with him and my wife, which is going to be very special.”

Hickok screwed three par-5s and made two birdies on par-3s with putts from 30 feet on the fourth and just within 40 feet on the 15th hole.

“I was putting really well,” Hickok said. “Seeing the lines really well and hitting some good putts. I don’t really feel like I’m playing that well from tee to green, just holding the ball in front of me and hitting it really well.”

Spieth screwed the first, fifth and eleventh par 5 holes, but bogeys the eighth par 3 and tenth par 4 holes.

“Today I drove what was perhaps the best ball of the year. I created a lot of chances with a few wedges,” said Spieth.

“I couldn’t quite get my distance control down on some scoring racquets.

– patience and attitude –

Fleetwood, who has shot 69, expects a tense weekend with storms forecast for Saturday.

“Patience and having a good attitude” will be key, Fleetwood said. “Just hang out and see what the day gives you.”

Germany’s Stephan Jaeger, an 18-hole co-leader, shot 72 and had a total of 138, while American 18-hole co-leader Ryan Brehm was up to 141 after a 75.

American Sam Burns, who shot 73 and was seven behind in 142, could become the first player to win the same PGA event three years in a row since Steve Stricker at the 2009-2011 John Deere Classic.



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