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Jordan Spieth finished T3 at the Valspar, clearing the way for runner-up Adam Schenk.
Now probably isn’t the best time to deliver good news to Adam Schenk. But when he’s ready, there’s plenty of it to be had.
“It stinks,” Schenk told reporters as he came off the 18th at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course. He’d been in the lead for most of the week before making bogey at the 72nd hole, a wild adventure that included a hooked tee shot next to a tree, a left-handed second shot and a desperation putt that clanged off the flagstick. The bogey meant he lost by one.
“I hit a really bad drive on the last hole. I toed it,” he said. “Wish [my drive] could have lightly hit somebody and stayed where I had a chance to get to the green, but it did not, and I didn’t deserve it.”
Schenk was making his 10th consecutive start this week; he explained that he’s been trying to pack in as much play as he can before he becomes a father.
“[My wife is] having a little baby boy here in about a month and a half,” he said on Friday. “So trying to make as many points as I can to take as much time off as I can and spend time with him and my wife, which will be very special.”
There’s no better way to earn points and time off than with a win, and Schenk entered Sunday with a one-shot lead and plans to claim his first-ever PGA Tour event. His wife Kourtney — nearly eight months pregnant — got up at 2 a.m. in Indiana and arrived in Tampa before he’d left for the course. Schenk’s round got off to a good start, too, when he made birdie at the par-5 first. He alternated birdies and bogeys to finish the front nine and was one under par for the day as he arrived at the 12th green, where he poured in a 71-footer for birdie. Somebody tossed a beer onto the putting surface. Life was good.
Adam Schenk’s wife is a trooper 💪
Despite being 8 months pregnant, Kourtney Schenk is out following her husband during the final round @ValsparChamp pic.twitter.com/e4Uo0MFozR
Schenk was resilient down the stretch, too. Seven-footer for par at 13. Six-footer for par at 16. And then, after a difficult bunker shot, he canned a 17-footer for par at 17. He was tied for the lead as he reached the 18th — Taylor Moore had caught him at 10 under par — but looked to be feeling good. Then came the tee shot, the punch out, the disappointing approach, the near-miracle putt.
“I want to close one out some day, but how many chances am I going to have, so I’m not leaving this putt short,” Schenk said. “I’m getting it to the hole.”
He did get it to the hole on a near-perfect line, but it ricocheted off the flagstick and continued on some five feet past the hole. Disappointment set in.
“I wanted [my caddie] David and I just to do the best that we could do from what we had. I think we did that today,” he said. “I just unfortunately hit a bad drive on the last hole and that’s just the way it worked out.”
But I promised good news! So let’s get to it.
For one thing, Schenk’s previous best performance was a T3 at the 2021 Shriners. This was guaranteed to eclipse that. But as he putted out on 18 it looked like Schenk wasn’t just losing his chance at a win — he was going to slip to T2, too.
Enter Schenk’s playing partner, Jordan Spieth. For 15 holes it had looked every bit like Spieth might just steal this one from under Schenk’s nose. But that would be far too simple; where Spieth goes, chaos follows. He hit a massive block-slice into the water off 16 and wound up getting up and down from 160 yards just to save bogey. He hit a terrific 4-iron to seven feet at No. 17 and, facing a putt that tie him for the lead, missed it just right. And then came the 18th hole.
Spieth needed birdie to force a playoff with Moore, but his approach shot came up just short and spun back to 48 feet. He made sure to get that putt to the hole and raced it three and a half feet past.
“Having to rip the one on 18 to make sure I got it there put me in a tough spot on the next one,” he said.
That next one? That ticklish three-and-a-half footer? Spieth jammed it past the left edge. He finished out for bogey and T3 alongside Tommy Fleetwood. That left Schenk alone in second place. That means more money. It means more points. And it means the best finish of his PGA Tour career.
Just how big a difference did Spieth’s final miss make?
Solo second paid Schenk $882,900, the biggest check of his career. Had he tied for second with Spieth he would have earned $162,000 less. (If you’re looking for the flip side, Spieth’s slip to T3 actually cost him $243,000, although he still earned $477,900. I supposed it’s worth acknowledging that both these men shouldn’t have trouble affording diapers.)
Perhaps more important than the money Schenk earned are the FedEx Cup points. Solo second earned him 300 points while T2 would have meant just 245. As a result he jumped from No. 72 to No. 31 in the standings. That gets him a long way towards qualifying for the playoffs, which is just 70 players deep this year. It also gets him closer to the all-important top 50, which will be the cutoff for next year’s designated events.
So, yeah. Bogey at No. 18 to lose by one was hardly the finish Schenk wanted. No winner’s exemption. No Masters invite. But a lot closer to securing his future on the PGA Tour.
All with a little help from Jordan Spieth.
Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.
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