Kevin Streelman carded a 4-under 67 on Sunday to win the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, his first PGA TOUR victory.
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Boo Weekley carded an 8-under 63 on Sunday at Innisbrook. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – So much for the fishing excursion.
Boo Weekley had planned to get an early jump on the drive to Orlando after Sunday’s final round at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, hoping to throw a line into some of the ponds at Bay Hill.
Instead, he faced a three-hour wait around Innisbrook – courtesy of the 8-under-par 63 that put him in line for a potential playoff.
“It’s all right,” Weekley said with a shrug. “I’ll wait.”
The homespun Floridian relaxed with some pizza after posting his lowest round since the 2010 Greenbrier Classic. That was before injuries ganged up to spoil not only his golf swing, but his bow hunting.
But this weekend has shown glimpses of the Weekley that won back-to-back at Hilton Head and helped the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory. He played his final 30 holes without a bogey, pouring in eight birdies on Sunday.
Each of his final two birdies, at Nos. 15 and 16, came after crisp irons that stopped less than 2 feet from the flagstick.
“It was impressive. Even I’m still kind of shocked at how well I really hit it,” Weekley said. “It was one of the best ballstriking days I’ve had in a long time. I had three or four tap-ins today.”
Sunday’s performance also came at a course that has bedeviled Weekley for years. Even though Innisbrook has the same type of tree-lined fairways as courses he grew up on in the Florida Panhandle, he’d missed the cut in four of his past five appearances.
His best finish on the Copperhead was his first, a tie for 22nd back in 2002.
“I think I was more happy when I made the cut here (Friday), to tell you the truth,” Weekley said. “It’s been such a long time. This course has given me fits. Now that I’d made the cut and could actually get myself up in contention, it felt good.”
After extra work with coach Scott Hamilton this week to get a better read on the Copperhead’s hard undulations, Weekley started seeing a payoff.
“We started adding a little more break to what I’m normally seeing,” he said. “Then when I started seeing a little more break, I started seeing the putts fall.
“When you haven’t been out there in so long, you get nervous. It feels great now – it’s over with.”
The wait, though, was only beginning.
Boo Weekley charged up the leaderboard with birdies on four of his first 10 holes, including this birdie on the 10th hole at Copperhead.
Amanda Balionis and the SiriusXM crew breaks down the final day of play at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, where George Coetzee, Kevin Streelman and Justin Leonard share the lead at 6 under.
The Snake Pit features one of the most difficult stretches of holes on TOUR. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook allowed the best scoring average it had all week Saturday -- not surprising after a cut -- but the Snake Pit maintained its bite.
The total stroke average for Round 3 of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank was 71.714 on the par-71 layout. In Round 2 the average was 71.909 and Thursday's average was 73.071.
The famed closing stretch of holes Nos. 16-18 each rank in the top-four toughest holes for the week thus far. On Friday, the par-4 16th was the course's second- toughest with a scoring average of 4.299. The par-4 18th was third-most difficult with an average of 4.234 while the par-3 17th was 10th-toughest with a Saturday scoring average of 3.039.
For the week, No. 16 is the No. 1 toughest, hole while Nos. 18 and 17 rank third and fourth respectively.
Here is a rundown of the stats on the Snake Pit:
|No. 16||460, par 4||4.299
|No. 17||215, par 3||3.039
|No. 18||445, par 4||4.234
|No. 16||460, par 4||4.261||0||15||93||36||8||1|
|No. 17||215, par 3||3.144||0||16||102||32||3||0|
|No. 18||445, par 4||4.216||0||17||89||44||3||0|
|No. 16||460, par 4||4.2628||0||13||98||36||9||0|
|No. 17||215, par 3||3.2628||0||6||105||43||2||0|
|No. 18||445, par 4||4.2628||0||12||98||40||5||1|
By: Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla.—It was a great day to tee off before the leaders. The Copperhead Course was a little softer earlier in the day and good scores were possible. As the afternoon progressed, the greens got firmer and crusty. Luke Donald teed off at 10:45 and shot 67. Jim Furyk began play more than two hours before the leaders and posted 67. Kevin Streelman had an 11:03 start and leads the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank. With 20 players within four shots of the lead, the final round might be a great opportunity for someone to go out early and post a low number that could turn into a winning score.
Taking the fifth: It’s very rare for a par 5 to be the hardest hole on the golf course but it happened in the third round. The par-5 fifth hole, had a devilishly tough hole location. Some players had a less kind description. The hole was cut five paces onto the green and four from the right hand side. It sat right on top of a knoll that rejected shots. There were a total of five birdies for the entire day with 22 bogeys, four doubles and one “other.”
Fast: Every golfer has a sad story to tell but Jason Dufner can certainly attest to the speed of the greens. He had a six foot birdie putt on the 11th green to tie for the lead. Dufner sent that putt five feet past the cup and then missed the par attempt. A three putt from six feet. In a two minute span, he went from a possible tie for the lead to falling two shots off the pace.
Golf shot: Jordan Spieth called it one of the best shots he’s ever hit. Keep in mind he’s only 19 years old but still, the shot was impressive. Spieth missed his drive left at the 16th hole and was in a jungle of trees. His caddie tired to talk him into a lateral escape but youth is impetuous. From 169 yards, Spieth threaded a shot through a two-yard sliver of an opening, kept it under one tree and hooked it around another onto the green and made birdie.
Wind: The wind was less than 10 miles an hour throughout the day but came from a different direction. Players were accustomed to a breeze out of the north-northwest. On Saturday, the wind flipped around and blew out of the south. It changed the complexion of several holes and players had to adjust.
Snake bit: Holes 16-17-18 comprise the “Snake Pit” and they had plenty of bite on Saturday. They rank the first, fourth and third most difficult holes from the week. All of which makes Ben Kohles’ accomplishment so impressive. He has played the Snake Pitin 2-under, recording four birdies and two bogeys.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
A top-13 finish would likely grant Spieth status on the PGA TOUR. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Jordan Spieth didn’t say it was the wisest decision. Just the one he felt most confident with.
From the trees left of the Copperhead’s 16th fairway, the 19-year-old pro somehow squeezed a low 6-iron through a 2-yard window while keeping it beneath another tree’s low-hanging branches.
Then came the bonus. The ball rose and hooked, giving it enough distance to carry onto the green and settle 11 feet away. Spieth finished off the improbable birdie, helping him to a 2-under 69 that lifted him within two shots of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank lead.
“It wasn’t a smart shot,” Spieth admitted. “Out of 10 times, I maybe hit the green once or twice.
“In that position, I felt confident with it. I felt like I could get it up there around the green. Hitting the green and making birdie was definitely a bonus, and that was one of the best shots I’ve ever hit in my life.”
Just another example of why Spieth likely won’t need long to stick on the PGA TOUR. A card may be as close as Sunday – a top-13 finish should be enough to earn the $101,295 he needs for special temporary membership.
Not that the two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion is looking at the money.
“As long as I focus on the top of the leaderboard, it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “As long as I’m focused on making up ground from where I’m at right now – and not focused on settling for a certain number – then I won’t have a problem doing that.”
Spieth could accomplish it in just three PGA TOUR starts. He tied for 22nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, then was runner-up behind Scott Brown at last week’s Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. He also had two top-10 finishes on the Web.com Tour.
Not bad for a guy who had no status to begin 2013. Despite falling short in the second stage of PGA TOUR qualifying, he still opted to leave the University of Texas in December.
“I can’t imagine being out here at 19, and to do what he’s done,” said co-leader Justin Leonard, a fellow UT product. “And it isn’t like he’s just driven a couple hundred miles [to tournaments]. He’s been to three or four countries this year already.
“It’s pretty remarkable. It’s beyond the game and what happens on the golf course, but he’s handling himself very, very well.”
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – The final round of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank shapes up as a mass Sunday sprint.
Kevin Streelman’s 6-under-par 65 was good enough to vault from the middle of the pack to a share of the lead with Justin Leonard and South Africa’s George Coetzee, with a cluster of 13 pursuers within three shots of the lead.
“It is hard. There’s not a whole lot of birdies on those last six holes,” said Leonard, who carded a 67. “You have to be pretty patient out there and really pick your spots carefully.”
Coetzee, making his first PGA TOUR start outside a major or World Golf Championships event, posted a 68. All three men teed off at least 40 minutes ahead of the final group, as shifting breezes upended the entire leaderboard.
The trio completed 54 holes at 6-under 207, as the leading score actually moved backward – Shawn Stefani’s 7-under total topped the board to begin the day.
“The wind was completely different from what they told us on the first tee,” Streelman said. “So that makes it really difficult because you’re planning on playing the course accordingly. It’s just one of those days. I played smart and made putts when I needed to.”
Jim Furyk, the 2010 champion and a playoff loser last year, used a 67 to head up a quartet lurking one shot off the pace. He was joined by Greg Chalmers (69), Tag Ridings (70) and rookie Ben Kohles (67).
Defending champion Luke Donald (67) and 19-year-old Jordan Spieth (69) were among five players at 4-under, along with Bryce Molder (68), Brian Harman (72) and the faltering Stefani (74).
For all Stefani’s struggles, though, he didn’t get the worst from among the final groups. Playing competitor Adam Scott skied to a 76, as did two-time Tampa Bay champion K.J. Choi. Harris English, paired with Choi, had a 73.
Toss in Harman and Jason Dufner (74), and Saturday's last three pairings played the Copperhead in a combined 19-over par.
Jim Furyk lost in a playoff last year at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Four days trying to solve the confounding Copperhead layout seemed the less demanding of two options bidding for Jim Furyk’s time this week.
He could have been back home, handling details for Monday’s event that benefits the charitable foundation that bears his name along with wife Tabitha.
“I really avoided all the work this week, being here,” Furyk quipped after Saturday’s 4-under 67 left him one shot behind co-leaders Kevin Streelman, Justin Leonard and George Coetzee at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by Everbank.
Of course, Furyk wouldn’t miss being at Innisbrook this week. The Copperhead Couse is one of his favorite courses on the PGA TOUR, and the layout seems to like him too – a victory three years ago and a playoff loss last year.
Now he’s potentially 18 holes from putting his hands on the trophy again.
“I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but I really feel like my game has gotten stronger every day,” said Furyk, who carded 72-69 in his first two rounds.
“I feel more confident with the putter in my hand. I’m seeing a couple more putts go in, and I think that’s giving me confidence as well. That’s why my scores are getting better.”
A bogey at the tough No. 16 slowed his momentum, but he flirted with eagle at No.18 with a splendid 7-iron that passed within a few inches of the cup before stopping three feet away. The ensuing birdie got him to 5-under for the week.
Furyk does have one fundraiser responsibility this week – arranging flights to transport a dozen or so TOUR pros to Ponte Vedra Beach after Sunday’s round. It isn’t all that simple, considering good friend Justin Leonard will play in the final group.
“I’m happy to see him playing well,” Furyk said. “He’s killing my [schedule] tomorrow, but other than that it’s good. I’m just going to have to back my late flight up.”
The possibilities are limitless for Sunday’s final round of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
Kevin Streelman, Justin Leonard and George Coetzee share the lead at 6-under but they don’t have much room for error on Sunday at the Innisbrook Copperhead Course.
There will be 16 players within three shots of the lead and 34 in red numbers when the final round gets under way Sunday.
Among them will be Jim Furyk (-5), Luke Donald (-4) and Sergio Garcia (-3).
At the start of Round 3, Shawn Stefani held a one-shot lead over Adam Scott and K.J. Choi. Scott and Choi each fell back with 5-over 76s while Stefani made the turn at 4-over before salvaging a 74 that leaves him two shots back of the leaders.
Streelman was the first to reach the clubhouse at 6 under. He started the day at level par and carded six birdies against no bogeys for a 65 that matched the week’s best score. Leonard (67) and Coetzee (68) each had one bogey on their scorecards but were able to join Streelman atop the leaderboard with 18 holes remaining.