Adam Schenk, playing for the 10th consecutive week, shot a two-under-par 69 to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the PGA Valspar Championship on Friday.
The 31-year-old American, who shared the 18-hole lead, was at seven-under 135 after 36 holes at Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida.
“It really couldn’t have gone much better with the number of putts I made,” Schenk said. “We’re doing a really good job of managing the courses.”
Countryman Kramer Hickok, like Schenk chasing his first PGA crown, was second on 136 after a second 68 in windy conditions.
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Valspar champion, fired a 70 to share third on 137 with fellow Americans Cody Gribble and Davis Riley plus England’s Tommy Fleetwood.
“Kind of an off day when it got close to the greens, hit a lot of rusty wedges,” Spieth said.
“To shoot one-under into the wind on this golf course is a good score so I feel good about my position going into the weekend.”
Schenck got off to a birdie-birdie start, blasting to seven feet from a bunker and sinking the putt at the par-5 first hole and then dropping his approach to inside three feet to set up a tap-in at 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 birdie from 4 1/2 feet on the 12th before a closing bogey after finding a greenside bunker.
“I had better control of my golf ball,” Schenk said. “Made some putts, made some good saves for pars that really put the round together.
“It was one of those rounds that could have been even par. It was never 5- or 6-under, but we managed it well and came away very happy with 2-under.”
Schenk, whose best PGA finish was third at the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open, is busy ahead of the birth of his son next month.
“There’s a little baby born here in about a month and a half,” Schenk said. “So trying to make as many points as I can to take as much time out as I can and spend time with him and my wife, which will be very special.”
Hickok birdied three par-5 holes and made two birdies on the par-3 hole with putts from 30 feet on the fourth and 40 feet on the 15th.
Hickok said, “I’m putting really well.” “Seeing the lines really well and hitting some nice putts. I don’t really feel like I’m playing that well tee to green, but keeping the ball in front of me and scoring really well.” I am.”
Spieth birdied the par-5 first, fifth and 11th but bogeyed the par-3 eighth and par-4 10th.
Spieth said, “I drove the ball today, probably my best of the year. Gave myself a lot of chances with some wedges.”
“On some of the scoring clubs I couldn’t control my distance. But when the wind is strong here and the green depth is so low, it gets really difficult.”
– Patience and attitude –
Fleetwood, who shot 69, expects a tense weekend with storms forecast for Saturday.
Fleetwood said “patience and a good attitude” would be key. “Just poking around and seeing what the day brings you.”
Germany’s Stefan Jaeger, an 18-hole co-leader, shot 72 to stand at 138, while American 18-hole co-leader Ryan Brehm was at 141 after a 75.
American Sam Burns, who shot a 73 to finish seven under 142, could become the first player since Steve Stricker at the 2009-2011 John Deere Classic to win the same PGA event three years in a row.