By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Tag Ridings apparently had only the tropics on his mind when he packed for three straight weeks in Florida.
The Oklahoma native found himself unprepared for temperatures in the low 40s that greeted Thursday’s first groups at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank. Without a sweater, Ridings teed off with only a sleeveless rain vest providing extra warmth.
“I’m underpacked this week, obviously,” Ridings said. “But I got it done on the first couple of holes, and after about six holes I was OK.”
Ridings heated up with the thermometer, in fact, recording four birdies in his final eight holes in gusty conditions. His 3-under-par 68 was good enough to share the early clubhouse lead with Brendan Steele.
Yeah, a few birdies will warm up any round.
“They do,” Ridings said. “It took me a while to make, but my [playing partners] were making them in the group, so I knew they were available.”
Ridings' wardrobe ought to be fine for the rest of the week, with temperatures warming up into the low 70s on Friday and threatening 80 on the weekend.
Ridings came to Innisbrook trying to reverse a slide that has seen him miss the cut in his past three starts, including free weekends at both The Honda Classic and Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. Before that, he tied for 15th at the Farmers Insurance Open.
“It’s been a lot off,” he said. “If you aim where you want it to go, it helps. I’ve started doing that today and it seemed to help.”
A word of caution, though: Ridings also opened with a 68 when he last visited Innisbrook two years ago. A day later, he was down the road after a Friday 79.
Tag Ridings birdied his last two holes to shoot 68 and seize the clubhouse lead midway through the first round of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
Ridings, who is looking for his first PGA TOUR victory, is tied at 3 under with Brendan Steele and Monday qualifier David Skinns. Steele has played 16 holes while Skinns is through 13.
Two-time champion K.J. Choi is also in the clubhouse with a round of 69. He's tied with Chez Reavie and Vijay Singh, who are finished at 2 under, as well. John Mallinger, Harris English, David Lingmerth and Matt Every teed off in the afternoon and are all 3 under early in their rounds.
Defending champion Luke Donald faltered down the stretch after playing his first 14 holes in 4 under. He bogeyed three of his final four holes and clocks in at 1 under -- tied at 70 with Nick Watney and J.J. Henry.
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The skies are cloudy and occasionally spitting rain as the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open gets under way in earnest.
The showers should dissipate by Thursday afternoon but return again on Friday when there is an 80 percent chance of precipitation. The odds decrease on the weekend, though, dropping to 20 percent Saturday morning and 30 percent on Sunday afternoon.
Temperatures will drop, as well. The high on Thursday will be in the upper 60s, then top out around 63 on Friday and Saturday and the upper 50s on Sunday.
Tag Ridings made a dreary day memorable, though, when he aced the third hole at the South Course. He used a pitching wedge on the 141-yard hole and is 1 under.
Things are looking up this week for Tag Ridings. After missing the cut last week at the John Deere Classic, where bogeys and double bogeys littered his scorecard, Ridings is 4 under and near the lead early in the opening round of the Viking Classic.
Ridings has yet to win a PGA TOUR event and he hasn’t had a top-10 finish since 2009, but if he continues to play like this that could change this week.
Perhaps he’s feeling his old competitive edge from his collegiate days; the Viking Classic is played in SEC country and Ridings went to the University of Arkansas.
Through 13 holes, Ridings is bogey free and has two birdies and an eagle.