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Adam Schenk takes lead at Valspar Championship

Mar 17, 2023; Palm Harbor, Florida, USA;  Adam Schenk plays his shot from the 13th tee during the second round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Schenk shot a 2-under-par 69 in the second round on Friday to earn a one-shot lead through 36 holes of the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Schenk sits at 7-under 135, ahead of Kramer Hickok (68 on Friday) by a stroke, while Jordan Spieth (70), Cody Gribble (65), Davis Riley (68) and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (69) are two back at 5 under.

Ranked No. 143 in the world, Schenk held a share of the first-round lead and added two quick birdies on his first two holes Friday. He bogeyed the par-4 third but recovered, adding two more birdies before carding a bogey on the par-4 18th.

“It couldn’t have went a whole lot better,” Schenk said of his round. “I feel like a lot of times you play a couple rounds of golf, maybe shoot 2 under and you’re like, it could have been six or seven. But it really couldn’t have been a ton better with the amount of putts I made.”

Schenk is hunting for the first PGA Tour victory of his career. His best finish is a tie for third at the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open. This is just the second time he’s held a lead or co-lead through two rounds on tour.

Hickok poured in five birdies with two bogeys on Friday to move up the leaderboard. The world No. 266, like Schenk, is seeking his first PGA Tour title.

“I felt like I hit it a little bit worse today, but I really felt like I managed my game a lot better,” Hickok said. “So the misses left me in decent spots to where I felt like I could have easy up-and-downs. But all in all I think the putter was the story this week or so far this week, just making some putts.”

Spieth followed a bogey-free 67 in the first round with three birdies and two bogeys in the second round. He won the Valspar in 2015 but hasn’t played the event since 2018.

“I don’t think I lost any ground shooting 1 under, but in order to go out and capture it, you got to do a little bit better than that on the weekend,” Spieth said.

Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia, making his 600th career start on tour, matched Gribble for the low round of the day with a 6-under 65. That moved him up to 3 under for the tournament, in a tie for 12th.

“I wouldn’t say I played well, but there must be a little bit of Irish blood in me because I definitely had some luck going,” Sabbatini said on St. Patrick’s Day. “I got fortuitous to make a couple of good par saves and then ironically hit a couple trees and somehow managed to make birdies on a couple holes where I should not have even had a chance of making par.

“But that’s how this golf course is. You need a little bit of luck out there.”

Two-time defending champion Sam Burns shot a 2-over 73 to drop to even par through two rounds, tied for 40th.

Notables to miss the cut of 1 over par included England’s Matt Fitzpatrick (3 over), 2017 Valspar champ Adam Hadwin of Canada (3 over, 76 on Friday) and Kevin Kisner (5 over).

–Field Level Media

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