Moore delivers surprise, tops Spieth, Schenk at Innisbrook
PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Taylor Moore delivered the clutch shots to move into contention, closed with a 4-under 67 and won the Valspar Championship on Sunday when he avoided the mistakes that cost Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk.
In only his second year on the PGA Tour, the 29-year-old who grew up outside Oklahoma City is now headed to the Masters next month.
He was on the practice range preparing for a playoff and missed a wild finish on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.
Spieth was tied for the lead when he sent his tee shot into the water on the 16th and managed to stay in the game by getting up-and-down from 163 yards to salvage bogey. On the par-3 17th, which yielded only two birdies all day, Spieth hit 4-iron to 6 feet — only to miss the birdie putt.
The real heartbreak belonged to Schenk, whose wife flew down to Florida for the final round a month before she is due with their first child. Schenk holed a 70-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole. He made tough par saves on the 16th and 17th holes to stay tied.
On the 18th, however, he pulled his tee shot to the left. It was roughly the same line as Moore had hit his tee shot earlier, only Schenk's ball rolled through the gallery and stopped next to a pine tree.
His only shot was hitting an inverted gap wedge left-handed, and it was a dandy, shooting across the fairway into the rough. His third shot came up just short of a ridge and rolled onto the fringe 40 feet away. The par putt to force a playoff hit the hole, but had too much pace and hopped out.
Schenk, playing for the 10th consecutive week so he can take time off when his son is born, closed with a 70.
Spieth was entertaining as ever. He made a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-5 14th to regain a share of the lead with Schenk. But his worst swing of the day came at the worst time, the 16th hole with water down the right side.
Spieth made a 15-foot bogey putt, only to miss the great birdie chance on the next hole — no one hit it closer than his shot all day — and then his approach to the 18th missed by about a foot of getting to the top shelf for a good look at birdie. He missed a par putt on the 18th that was worth FedEx Cup points and money, signed for a 70 and tied for third with Tommy Fleetwood.
Fleetwood (70) also had a share of the lead on the back nine. His round came undone on the par-5 14th hole when he went for the green in two. He pulled it left and caught a brutal lie in the downslope of the sand. He could only advance that in the big bunker, blasted out to about 15 feet and missed the par putt. He never caught up again.
No one was paying all that much attention to Moore until the 29-year-old who played at Arkansas started hitting one quality shot after another. He stuffed his approach to 2 feet on No. 12 for a birdie.
He effectively won the tournament with one great swing and one great putt. On the par-3 15th, he took aim at the back right pin to 6 feet and made birdie to get within one shot of the lead. And then he holed a 25-foot birdie on No. 16 to join Schenk in the lead.
Moore got up-and-down for par with a long bunker shot on the 17th, and he two-putted from about 70 feet just off the green at the 18th to finish at 10-under 274.
And then he won while warming up on the range for a playoff that never happened.
The victory for Moore was worth $1,458,000 and moved him to No. 9 in the FedEx Cup standings. Along with a trip he might not have been expecting to the Masters, he gets in the PGA Championship. He moved from No. 103 to just inside the top 50 in the world.