SAN DIEGO – Adam Schenk celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday.
The party continued on Thursday.
In search of his first PGA Tour title, Schenk made eight consecutive birdies – falling just one shy of the record – and added two more to fire a career-low, 10-under 62 on the North Course at Torrey Pines in the second round to grab a share of the lead in the Farmers Insurance Open.
“I lost track of how many I made in a row, but there was a lot of low scores on the North Course yesterday and I knew there was a lot of gettable holes and I needed to keep going if I wanted to get up on top of the leaderboard and hopefully stay there throughout the weekend,” he said. “So I know I had to try to keep the pedal down and not get satisfied with how many birdies I made.
“I didn’t drive it well. So I definitely have to drive it better to be able to have a chance to compete this weekend. I’m right there, doing a lot of things well, so just need to get the ball in the fairway a little more often.”
Schenk’s birdie putts during the scoring blitz came from 7, 8, 4, 30, 40, 2, 35 and 30 feet. Schenk had a good look for birdie to tie the record for most consecutive birdies but missed from 12 feet. He also lipped out from 15 feet on his last hole.
“Just a lot of long putts,” he said. “It’s not like I was hitting it to 10 feet every time making the putts, I had a lot of lengthy ones.”
Schenk has some pretty heady company at the top after another spectacular day on the cliffs by the Pacific Ocean, the ideal scoring conditions featuring light winds, plenty of sunshine and the two courses a tad on the soft side.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm (65 on the North) and world No. 6 Justin Thomas (63 on the North) are also at 13 under. Cameron Tringale (65 on the North) is a shot back. Peter Malnati is two back at 11 under.
Rahm got around just fine despite hitting just four fairways in regulation.
“I managed really well today, and it feels good because if you told me before the round I’m going to hit four fairways and shoot 7 under, I’d tell you that something out there must have been really good, which today was,” he said. “For how little fairways I hit, I was able to hit a lot of those greens from the rough, which is not the easiest thing to do.”
Rahm downplayed what could be perceived as his advantage heading into the final two rounds. The tournament moves to the tougher South Course for the final 36 holes. Rahm won the 2021 U.S. Open on the South Course.
“A U.S. Open is very, very different. I believe I was 3 under through two rounds and I was thrilled with that score,” he said. “At 13 under right now and I think how much better it could have been if I hit fairways, right? So it’s not comparable.”
Thomas, who won the Players Championship last year, struggled at times with his driver in 2021. But so far this year, he’s been spot on.
“I drove it well, something you’ve got to do out here on the North Course,” Thomas said. “I mean, both courses, but if you drive it well, you’ve got a lot of wedges, a lot of short holes, four par-5s. Made some nice putts when I needed to, just kind of some of those short mid-rangers and it was a solid day.”
As for Schenk, this wasn’t the first time he made eight birdies in a row. He did so in junior golf. When he was 12.
Back then, he started to hear the jokes about his last name. It sounds like shank – the most dreaded shot in golf. It’s when a player hits the ball on the hosel of the club and the ball shoots way right.
Funny thing, Schenk hit a shank on Thursday.
“It was my first one in a while, but I cold shanked a sand wedge, it was like my third shot of the day,” he said about his range session. “But I usually hit it off the toe in tournaments, so that’s fortunate.
“As for the name, lots of jokes, but everybody just calls me by my last name, so I guess that makes it easy. A lot of my best friends just call me Shank. It’s actually pronounced Schenk, but everybody just says Shank, so I kind of just go with it.”
Maybe Schenk gets the last laugh on Saturday after the final round.