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Anyone who plays golf at any level knows that it’s a cruel game. Adam Schenk learned the hard way just how vicious the sport can be at the Valspar Championship.
Casual golf fans probably aren’t that familiar with Schenk, who has never won a PGA Tour event. In fact, most fans probably tuned in Sunday to watch Jordan Spieth. Spieth and Schenk played together in the final grouping during the fourth round.
Schenk became most “famous” for playing in his 10th consecutive PGA Tour event. He has not taken a weekend off this year. His wife is expecting a child and he’s trying to get in as much golf as possible — and make as much money as possible — before the baby is born.
But his wife had some fun with the idea that he’s not been home much recently.
Update: this is not a wife who hates her husband.
Adam Schenk came THIS close to finally winning a PGA Tour event at the Valspar Championship
Despite playing in 10 consecutive events, Schenk’s best 2023 finish came at the Farmer’s Insurance Open where he tied for 20th. He’s been outside the Top 30 in the rest of the events, but has made seven cuts.
This weekend at the Valspar, Schenk entered completely uncharted territory. In 164 career starts on the Tour, Schenk finished in third place once and made the Top 10 nine times. He’s never won or been runner-up.
But everything seemed to be coming together this weekend. Schenk shot five-under in round one, holding a share of the lead after one round. He followed that with a two-under round on Friday to take the outright lead into Saturday.
He shot under par again on Saturday, and once again sat atop the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round. His 8-under led Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood by one shot each. Webb Simpson, Taylor Moore, and Cody Gribble were all two back.
Adam Schenk played a pretty good round on Sunday, too. Despite battling Jordan Spieth, a man who has won three majors and 13 events overall, Schenk shot a one-under on the front nine and picked up a birdie hole 12 to push his score to -10 for the tournament. And it was not an ordinary birdie.
But a hard-charging Taylor Moore shot an excellent four-under round to post 10-under and the clubhouse lead with Schenk and Spieth on hole 16.
Schenk made a ridiculous par save on 17, hitting a 16-foot putt after a tough bunker shot. That save sent him to the 18th tee needing par to force a playoff or a birdie to win. His partner, Spieth, sat a shot back and needed to make birdie.
It all went awry for Schenk on 18
The hole started about the worst way possible: Schenk shanked (sorry, I had to) his tee shot left. That’s OK, though, just have to save par. Here’s the problem: the ball landed right up against a tree. Schenk got the worst possible break he could imagine at the worst possible moment he could imagine.
At one point while surveying what the hell he was going to do next, Schenk kicked his golf bag. He couldn’t believe what was happening.
Look at that man just stare at the ground. That’s a broken soul.
But Adam Schenk is not a man who gives up easily. After a discussion with his caddie — who begged him not to do this, by the way — Schenk decided the only chance he had to make par was to turn one of his irons upside down and hit the ball left handed.
Just before taking his stance, he says “I can’t get this ball to the fairway left-handed.”
But he was wrong.
Adam Schenk takes a left-handed approach and finds the right rough. pic.twitter.com/aAJyFM3Y3N— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 19, 2023
Not only did he get the ball TO the fairway, he actually hit it OVER the fairway. You can’t make this stuff up.
So, being in the rough is not ideal, but he only had about 100 yards to the hole.
Unfortunately, the 18th green has levels and Schenk’s approach shot didn’t reach the top level and trickled back into the fringe, about 41 feet from the cup.
Spieth actually did almost the exact same thing with his approach, meaning one of them was going to have to hit a ridiculous putt to force the playoff against Moore.
Spieth missed his putt and never really gave it a chance. Adam Schenk clearly decided “I am going to give this putt a chance to go in.”
And boy did it ever have a chance to go in.
OH, NO! Schenk’s putt hit the hole but didn’t drop. He would make his bogey to finish at nine-under for the tournament, one shot worse than winner Taylor Moore.
So, not only did his tee shot land right next to a tree, but his tournament-tying putt hit the hole but didn’t fall. Just brutal all around.
One silver lining, though. Jordan Spieth not only missed his tournament-tying putt, but he also missed a short clean-up attempt and also made bogey.
Why is that a silver lining? Well, thanks to that missed Spieth putt, Schenk finished solo second place at the Valspar Championship.
For that finish, he received $882,900. Had Spieth made his putt, the pair would have tied for second place. In that case, Schenk would have won $720,900.
That’s an extra $162,000 for a man expecting a child. Maybe that missed putt was on purpose by Spieth as a birthday gift to the expecting father.
If so, classy move Mr. Spieth. Especially since that missed putt actually cost Spieth about a quarter-million.
Not sure anyone else is going to give the couple a better baby shower gift than that.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak