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Taylor Moore claims first PGA title at Valspar Championship

Mar 19, 2023; Palm Harbor, Florida, USA;  Taylor Moore plays his shot from the second tee during the Valspar Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

After his two chief competitors missed must-have putts at the 72nd hole, Taylor Moore was the last man standing at the Valspar Championship and won his first PGA Tour title on Sunday in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Moore shot a 4-under 67 in the final round to finish at 10-under 274. He beat Adam Schenk (70 Sunday) by one shot and Jordan Spieth (70) and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (70) by two.

“(I was) just in compete mode, and watching the guys finish — maybe in a playoff, maybe not,” Moore told the NBC broadcast. “But it’s so cool. It’s so awesome. It’s what I worked for.”

The 29-year-old Moore recovered from a wayward tee shot at the par-4 18th at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course and saved a 5 1/2-foot par. That made him the leader in the clubhouse while Schenk and Spieth were finishing up behind him.

Schenk was tied with Moore at 10 under but also drove left at No. 18. Spieth was 9 under at the time and needed a birdie and a Schenk par or worse to join a playoff.

But after Schenk laid up, both Schenk and Spieth landed their approach shots short of the pin and on the wrong side of a slope in the green, their balls rolling back and off to the side.

Spieth’s 51-foot birdie putt to tie Moore missed, and he flubbed his 4-foot par comebacker. Schenk hammered his par putt from 47 feet, and he had the right line but it was rolling too fast and it glanced off the cup and the pin.

“Second place being my best finish ever, I haven’t had a ton of top 10s on the PGA Tour,” Schenk said. “So, I mean, I want to close one out some day, but how many chances am I going to have, so (I thought) I’m not leaving this putt short. I’m getting it to the hole. I did and it was on line. It would have been amazing if it went in, but luckily, it hit the pin or else I would have been another 4, 5 feet behind.”

On a day when only seven players broke 70, Moore shot his second round of 67 of the week. He began the day two off Schenk’s lead but made five birdies — three on the back nine — and just one bogey.

Moore’s previous best finish in a non-team event on tour was a T5 at last August’s Wyndham Championship.

“I really wasn’t worried about everybody else with how tricky this place is. I was just really trying to focus on me and my conversations with my caddie and what I was doing. I might have been under the radar to some people watching, but I felt like I was in the golf tournament from the time I teed off today and was just excited to control what I could control and get it done.”

Schenk made four birdies and three bogeys on the day. He converted crucial par saves down the stretch before the fateful bogey at the last.

Spieth, the 2015 Valspar winner, had three birdies and no bogeys through 15 holes. He survived a bad drive at the par-4 sixth by saving par, and he made a stellar up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the par-3 15th, placing his second shot inside 3 feet of the cup.

But then Spieth struck his drive into the water at the par-4 16th and had to take a drop far behind the start of the fairway. He managed to sink a bogey putt from nearly 15 feet to fall to 9 under, minimizing the damage and staying in contention.

“I made two bad swings today. I got away with the one on 6 and I didn’t get away with the one on 16,” Spieth said. “Fought hard from there and made a nice bogey and then a nice couple shots on the last couple, and that 18th pin is just brutal there. You just can’t rely on having to birdie that hole to that pin.”

Wyndham Clark shot 70 finished fifth at 6-under 278, and two-time defending champion Sam Burns posted a 67, his best round of the week, to take sixth place at 5-under 279.

–Field Level Media

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