Schenk clings to PGA Valspar’s lead with Spieth and Fleetwood chasing

The unheralded Adam Schenk finished with a birdie to secure a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and England’s Tommy Fleetwood after the third round of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship on Saturday.

Schenk screwed two of the last three holes in windy conditions to shoot a one-under-par 70 and have an overall eight-under after 54 holes at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Chasing his first PGA Tour title in his 165th start, Schenk fired his approach to the last within five feet and then made the putt to take the lead.

“There wasn’t much going on until the end. Tough day, but overall very satisfied,” said Schenk. “It was difficult. The wind picked up, turned, and in the end it got cold. We just stuck to our game plan and kept our heads down.”

Schenk, who is playing for the 10th straight week before becoming a father next month, has a best career third at the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open but will be with three-time Major winner Spieth in Sunday’s final pairing.

“I’m just concentrating on myself,” said Schenk. “I knew that I would make it into the last group with the last putt. I’m glad I made it. I look forward to tomorrow.”

Spieth, the 2015 Valspar champion, and Fleetwood, who was seeking his first PGA Tour victory after 111 starts, each fired 69 seconds to share second place with Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion a seventh, with fellow Americans Cody Gribble and Taylor Moore on six-under.

“I didn’t quite have my best approach play and lag putting, but overall I’m in a good position for tomorrow,” said Spieth.

“Lots of good players up there. Tommy was in good form… I still think after it rained tonight it will need a little more goals than the last few days.”

Fleetwood has won six European Tour titles, his most recent win at the Nedbank Challenge last November in South Africa, but has four runners-up without a win at the US circuit.

“We all dream and every time we serve we want to win every week,” Fleetwood said. “I haven’t done it yet. We can start anytime and start collecting them.

“Happy to be back in the running… overall happy with where I think my game is going. Just try to do everything right tomorrow and see if it’s my time or not.”

Fleetwood first had a tap-in birdie on the par-5 and pocketed another birdie putt on the par-5 14 while making par 16.

“Started with a nice birdie and it was like putting further away,” Fleetwood said. “Birdies were very hard to come by.”

– Spieth’s roller coaster –

Spieth survived a rollercoaster day with five birdies, five bogeys and an opening eagle.

A final bogey cost him part of the lead going into the final day.

“Eventful,” said Spieth. “For the amount of mistakes I’ve made, it’s nice to shoot a few under.”

World No. 14 Spieth is seeking his 14th PGA Tour title and his first since the heritage event last April.

Spieth dropped his 6-iron second shot two and a half yards from the opening hole and pocketed the eagle putt to immediately tie the lead.

“A great start, especially on a day when you know you’re going to get a lot of wind,” said Spieth.

“Par 5s were great. You have to do that in these conditions on this golf course.”

He birdied the fifth par 5 and then had four bogey birdie runs between the seventh and 16th holes.

“I tried to be a bit more aggressive with the putter,” said Spieth.


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