Home » Self-Described Grinder Adam Schenk Chases New Heights
Entertainment Golf Golf News PGA Tour Sports

Self-Described Grinder Adam Schenk Chases New Heights

Contender John Deere Classic after third-round 67

Editor’s note: This story was written after the first round of the John Deere Classic. Schenk now sits at 15-under par and trails Brendon Todd by two after Round 3.

SILVIS, Ill. — Adam Schenk is a John Deere Classic kind of guy.

Humble. Unassuming. Small-town, Midwestern roots. Stays quiet. Works hard. Takes his dog to the golf course.

Well, to be clear, Quad Cities golf courses are not overrun with pooches. But, still, in a blue-collar, tractor-building community such as this, who couldn’t love a guy like that?

Amidst a breakout 2023 season, his sixth on TOUR, Schenk returns to TPC Deere Run with a career profile not unlike the small-town tournament where some early success made lean years less lean and good years that much better.

Schenk’s five top-10 finishes in his first four TOUR campaigns included a T6 at the 2019 John Deere and a T4 in 2021, but those were tastes of slow-grow success. His highest finish in the FedExCup standings was 71st in 2019. He was a journeyman’s journeyman, but one who learned and improved along the way.

“I’ve been basically a career grinder, so I have been on a slow, steady slope up,” he said here Wednesday. “There’s some ups, and there’s some downs.”

The 31-year-old native of Vincennes, Indiana, returned to Silvis this week with the arrow decidedly pointing up. He has notched four top-10s in 27 starts, including a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship and a playoff loss at the Charles Schwab Challenge. With a current FedExCup ranking of 26th, Schenk took the first tee Thursday in the unfamiliar role of one of the pre-tournament favorites.

A bogey-free, 6-under 65 put him in second place through the morning wave, three back of pace-setter Jonas Blixt, firmly in line with those expectations.

Schenk gained nearly 3.5 strokes on the greens Thursday, third-best of the 78 players in the morning wave. He ranked No. 12 in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green, as well.

Schenk called that “playing Adam golf.”

Which is?

“A touch more conservative at times. Just hitting a lot of greens, playing to the smart side and just allowing my putter to do the work,” he explained. “It seems like every time I play well, I putt well, so that’s kind of the recipe for me. I feel like I gave myself a chance.”

A touch conservative. Nothing flashy. That’s not just “Adam golf.” That’s Adam. And it defines the steady path to Adam’s breakout year.

“I think it just honestly has been years in the making,” his wife Kourtney said. “He’s a golf nerd, so he has been working toward this for a long time and the self-belief is really coming into form, too. So it’s the perfect storm.”

Naturally, that is a quiet self-belief. It is not necessarily tempered by modest expectations, but it is informed by hard-won lessons. It is self-belief couched in self-awareness. Schenk sees the Rahms and the Schefflers and, now, the new cadre of phenoms, the Ludvig Abergs and Gordon Sargents — the Pass Go and Proceed to Park Place straight-out-of-college crowd — and understands he comes from a different place.

“Straight out of college, I went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for (PGA TOUR Latinoamerica) Q-School, and that was perfect for me,” the Purdue product said. “I played great, got through. I got a year down there, got two years on the Korn Ferry Tour. That’s what I needed. I wasn’t as good coming out of college. That’s what I needed. That was the route I had to take because I wasn’t a world-class talent, and I’m still not.”

That’s not to say he can’t reach Park Place with a few more rolls of the dice.

This year’s two close calls coupled with several other Sundays in contention — including a T7 at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic — all are part of a learning curve.

“That’s a step in the progression of just learning how I feel when I get in contention, how I handle the nerves, what changes in my swing, what did I mess up, and how do I fix it for the next time?” Schenk said. “That’s what I think everyone out here is always trying to figure out, and it’s easier said than done.”

Life beyond the golf course is part of that learning process as well. Adam, Kourtney and his four-legged golf course companion Bunker expanded their family this spring when son A.J., aka Adam Jr., arrived.

Fatherhood has rounded out the golf nerd a bit.

“I think it just gives you a different perspective because as soon as you’re done with your round, you’re not spending all day at the course anymore,” Kourtney said. “Your time management is a little better and your focus is you want to get back and hang out with your son. It has been cool to see Adam switch gears into that. It has loosened him up and changed his focus a lot.”

Fatherhood hasn’t made Schenk less focused on his professional progression.

“I have not won yet,” he said this week. “I think that’s the fun part, and I think that’s what drives guys like Jon Rahm or someone that wins consistently. You get a taste of winning, and just being there so often, and it’s just fun.

“Like last week, I didn’t win, but I still had a great week. We had a ton of fun. I felt like I got back in contention, and that’s the goal. That’s the goal again this week.”

Finishing on top would be that much more fun.

And wouldn’t the John Deere Classic be a perfect place for a John Deere Classic kind of guy to graduate to the winner’s circle?

Source : PGA Tour