PGA Tour veteran Adam Schenk entered the weekend at the 2023 Valspar Championship with a solo lead with a 7 under. After sharing the lead in the first round, the former Purdue Boilermakers golfer continued to take the lead early Friday morning with 2 under 69. While his alma mater could be the No. 1 seed. in the 2023 NCAA TournamentSchenk will play an underdog Cinderella for the next 36 holes with Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jordan Spieth (-5) and Justin Thomas (-3) all on his heels.
Sam Burns is also outside of the equal argument. He looks set to become the first player since Steve Stricker to win a tournament three years in a row; he arrives as the two-time defending champion at Innisbrook. After his previous driver was ruled non-compliant earlier this season, he has finally found a suitable replacement and that has been shown at Copperhead Course.
Stricker isn’t the only former Valspar Championship champion who could feature over the weekend when Spieth reigned supreme eight years ago in the Tampa area. Already in contention at the WM Phoenix Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Spieth will keep an eye on positioning herself for next Sunday’s nine finals.
1. Adam Schenk (-7): Schenk hasn’t taken a week off in 2023. Yes, you read that correctly. Starting his year at the Sony Open, Schenk’s appearance in the Valspar Championship marks his 10th consecutive week of competition. During this time, he made seven cuts with his best being a T20 at the Farmers’ Insurance Open. Though unusual, Schenk’s reason for this nonstop schedule is a good one: He and his wife are expecting a baby in the next few weeks.
“I’ve played a lot anyway, but there’s a little son here in about a month and a half, so try to score as many points as you can to take as much time as you can and take your time. for my kids and my wife, it’s going to be very special,” Schenk said.
2. Kramer Hickok (-6)
T3. Tommy Fleetwood, Jordan Spieth, Cody Gribble, Davis Riley (-5)
T7. Wyndham Clark, Matt Wallace, Taylor Moore, JT Poston, Stephan Jaegar (-4)
T12. Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, Adam Long, Byeong Hun An, Doug Pin, Rory Sabbatini, Alex Smalley, Lucas Glover (-3)
The best player debate without winning the PGA Tour often revolves around young stars like Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala, but Fleetwood has the right to join the conversation. The Briton has come under fire many times, especially in Florida state, and he likes his last chance to get through (if he can be patient).
“Sometimes you have it, sometimes you lose it, sometimes you’re somewhere in between,” Fleetwood says of his patience. “Up until this week, I’ve done my job well. It’s always something you internalize, whether it’s your own expectations or trying to force things when you feel like things aren’t going your way. It’s been a tough thing to do. I can only talk about the last two days and I feel like I did a great job at it. I just want to keep that attitude until the weekend. The further into the week, the harder it gets. But, yeah, just keep the attitude going and take each shot as it comes.”
If you can’t beat them, join them
Hickok missed eight of his first nine cuts of the 2022-23 season and went looking for answers. Instead of word of mouth or other people’s advice, he simply watched which swing coach golfers played best. With this in mind, Hickok turned to Mark Blackburn for advice. The fruits of their labor are starting to bear fruit as Hickok arrives at the Valspar Championship after making three in a row, including a T14 finish at the Honda Classic.
“I changed coaches back in the fall, and I just made some changes to the way I rotate, and so when I go into tournaments, it’s like going back to my bad habits. … It’s definitely better than last week, and it’s better than it was a week ago. It’s just started,” Hickok said of his new partnership with swing coach Mark Blackburn. “His players have played really well. Max Homa has played fantastic. Chez Reavie seems to win every year. Trey Mullinax won last year. He has Justin Rose; he won this year. Because So, I was just trying to follow the hot hand, and he really helped me out a lot. I’m really excited about our path together.”
Wait, why is Rob Gronkowski here?
The Patriots’ tight finish and the former Buccaneers were at Innisbrook on Friday. Taking in the sights and sights, Gronkowski drew attention with his charisma and personality with Scottie Scheffler’s Masters champion dinner menu.
“My menu will be cheese sandwiches, chicken sausage, buffalo wings with blue cheese on the side, and of course my lovely shaved ice right here with a cold drink with ice inside, always a little bit drunk, honey,” said Gronkowski. “Is that when you mean ‘menu’, like, food?”
Valspar Championship Odds, Picks 2023
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Jordan Spieth: 5-1
- Tommy Fleetwood: 4/27
- Adam Schenk: 15/2
- Kramer Hickok: 17/2
- Justin Thomas: 9-1
- Davis Riley: 10-1
- Wyndham Clark: 12-1
- Stephan Jaegar: 18-1
- Taylor Moore: 18-1
- JT Poston: 25-1
Thomas is only two strokes behind his good friend, Spieth, and still hasn’t hit his iron well. He’s second in strokes taken from teeing off and ninth in strokes reached on approach. So if his typical approach play – his usual strong point – comes into play over the weekend, he will be in good form. Poston’s 25-1 scoreline is also attractive as he leads the field in terms of reach. The two-time PGA Tour champion is a player who seems to want his third shot, and if his batter starts to cooperate, he can do it.