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Schenk in lead after late birdie

March 19, 2023 at 2:19 a.m.

PALM HARBOR, Fla . — Adam Schenk looked as though he and everyone else would get passed by Jordan Spieth on Saturday at the Valspar Championship. When a wild and windy round finished, Schenk was still the player everyone was chasing.

Schenk hit his approach to the 18th hole to 5 feet and made the birdie putt for a 1-under 70, giving him a one-shot lead over Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood as he goes after his first victory on the PGA Tour.

“We didn’t have a ton go our way until the very end,” Schenk said.

Neither did Fleetwood, who opened with a birdie and followed with 12 consecutive pars. He wound up with a bogey-free 69 and realized not losing ground was one of the best things he had going on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.

Spieth, however, is who dictated the action.

He had a 69 and had to decide when it was over whether that was a good score on account of all the mistakes he made or a wasted chance to separate himself from the field. Spieth opened with a 6-iron to 7 feet for eagle. He led by as many as two shots.

But he made only three pars over his final 12 holes — on four of those occasions, he followed a bogey with a birdie. But that ended on the 18th when he hit a tree on his drive, went into a front bunker and then blasted by the pin to the collar for a final bogey.

“I didn’t have my best stuff in the approach game, but overall I’m in a good spot for tomorrow,” Spieth said.

Former University of Arkansas golfer Taylor Moore is tied for fourth at 6-under 207. Moore fired a 2-under 69 on Saturday after a 4-under 67 on Friday.

Schenk was at 8-under 205 and will play in the final group with Spieth, whose game appears to be rounding into form with the Masters on the horizon.

Schenk is playing his 10th week in a row because his wife, Courtney, is expecting their first child at the end of April. He also is entered in the field next week in the Dominican Republic, though a victory could change everything.

That feels a long way off.

Eight players were within three shots of the lead.

David Lingmerth (Razorbacks) is tied for 10th at 4-under 209. Andrew Landry (Razorbacks) is at 1-over overall after a 71 on Saturday.

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