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Tough Scoring at Innisbrook
With the early groups greeted by temperatures in the low-40s, the scoring reflected the chilly conditions during the opening round of the Tampa Bay Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla.
Only 25 players posted under-par rounds in the $5.5 million PGA Tour stop, which got underway Thursday on the par-71 Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort
Though the weather is expected to heat up the next few days, the lengthy Copperhead layout - played at 7,340 yards and with only four par-5s - will probably continue to play tough the rest of the week.
The best round - a spotless 6-under 65 - was fired by Tour rookie Shawn Stefani. The 31-year-old Texan, a two-time winner last year on the Web.com Tour, began play on the 10th tee and carded three birdies on both his front and back nines.
Brian Harman is two shots back in solo second after a 4-under 67. The 26-year-old Georgian posted five birdies and a bogey. Another stroke back are Tag Ridings, Brendan Steele and Harris English.
Ridings missed the cut in his past three starts and is hoping for a better result this week. "(My game has) been a lot off," the 38-year-old Oklahoman told PGATour.com. "If you aim where you want it to go, it helps. I've started doing that today and it seemed to help."
Posting 69s were Chez Reavie, K.J. Choi, Vijay Singh, Dicky Pride, Peter Tomasulo, Roberto Castro, Lucas Glover and Geoff Ogilvy.
Florida native Billy Horschel started off hot with four birdies in his first five holes but cooled off thereafter, with three bogeys coming home for a 70. Among the players he's tied with in 14th place are Jason Day, former Masters' winner Trevor Immelman and defending champion Luke Donald.
Donald, who finished 72 holes at 13-under 271 last year and then won with a birdie on the first hole in a four-way sudden-death playoff, looked good for awhile. Starting on the 10th tee, the 35-year-old Englishman had four birdies in his first 14 holes.
But Donald, who supplanted Rory McIlroy as the top-ranked player in the world last year after winning at Innisbrook in what was then called the Transitions Championship, stumbled down the stretch with three bogeys on his final four holes. "I'm extremely disappointed right now," Donald told PGATour.com.
"I had it really under control and could have been 6- or 7-under with a couple putts. Obviously to finish like that, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth."
Other opening scores included a 72 by former champion Jim Furyk - who lost to Donald in the playoff last year, and a 2-over 73 by reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson. Starting on the 10th tee, the North Carolinian never got untracked, carding five bogeys and three birdies. Also posting a 73 was 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen.
For complete scoring details, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.