By PGATOUR.COM staff
Don’t sleep on defending champion Luke Donald on Sunday at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
Donald carded a bogey-free 4-under 67 Saturday to reach the clubhouse at 4-under, leaving him tied for eighth, two back of co-leaders Kevin Streelman, Justin Leonard and George Coetzee at Innisbrook.
"It was nice to go around this course not make a mistake, not drop a shot, and you know, I wanted to shoot five or six under, nearly got there, a couple missed putts and didn't birdie any par fives," Donald said. "Could have been a really low round today. But yeah, certainly moving in the right direction, as I said, I feel like my game has been close, and obviously starting to show with some results"
A year ago, Donald entered the final round tied for seventh and, three back of co-leaders Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen. All he did from there was post a Sunday 66 before defeating Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Sang-moon Bae in a playoff.
That finish pushed Donald from 85th to 12th in the FedExCup standings. The Englishman would go on to finish ninth – his third consecutive top-10 – in the final FedExCup standings.
This season, Donald is off to a slow start by his standards, with no top-15 finishes in his first three events. A successful title defense at Innisbrook, however, could move him from 95th into the top 20 once again.
"It's a fine line between success and finishing 30th," Donald said. "I think a lot of my fans and myself, you know, have always expected me to see me in the Top‑10 and up at the top of the leaderboard every week and sometimes golf is just not that easy."
Another solid round Sunday and Donald's fans will get to see him finish inside the top 10 for the first time in 2013.
Kevin Streelman is in position for his best career finish on TOUR. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
On a tough course, one strong round can make all the difference.
Kevin Streelman found that out on Saturday at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
Streelman, who started the day at even–par, seven shots off the pace, after carding nine birdies and nine bogeys in the first two rounds on Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course, had six birdies against no bogeys on moving day to gain a share of the lead at 6-under. That number was matched by George Coetzee (68) and Justin Leonard (67) by day's end.
"I wanted to get to 6‑under today," he said. "I had that number in my mind to at least have a chance going into tomorrow so I was happy to get there. The wind out here can wreak havoc on us. It's turned quite a bit and glad I'm done. Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful, as well."
Streelman has three third-place finishes in his PGA TOUR career, most recently at the 2010 Barclays. Despite his lack of work on the top of Sunday leaderboards, Streelman knows what he's in for tomorrow as he chases his first-career victory.
"This is my sixth year out here, so I've been in a lot of hairy situations," he said. "I believe in the work I've done and getting more comfortable each year out here. Done a lot of practicing and hung around the right people. Either way, whatever happens, will happen and I'll do my best"
Streelman’s 65 matched the week’s best round. Shawn Stefani carded the number in Round 1 and Erik Compton matched it Friday.
Prior to the third round of the 2013 Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, Fred Albers and Mark Carnevale from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio discuss second round leader Shawn Stefani's chances at Copperhead.
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 played a bit easier in Round 2 on Friday.
The total stroke average for Round 2 at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank was 71.909, or .909 strokes over par. For comparison, Round 1 played to a stroke average of 73.071.
Nos. 16 was the most difficult hole on the course with an average of 4.261. The par-4 18th hole ranked third (2.216) while No. 17 ranked fifth (3.144).
Here is a rundown of the stats on the Snake Pit:
|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|
Harris English makes a motion like a bowler when lining up putts. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- K.J. Choi knew he had to make a change.
Choi was ranked 98th in strokes gained-putting and was losing confidence. So he made a change. A big change. He switched to a modified claw grip.
Choi had struggled with his wrist breaking down, particularly on right-to-left putts. The grip is admittedly a work in progress but his confidence is growing. Choi took 25 putts in the second round and one-putted all the par 3s on the back nine, including two for birdie.
Bowling: Harris English has an unusual pre-shot routine before he putts. He stands behind of the ball and looks at the cup while he makes a motion with his right hand that resembles bowling. Harris calls it “being more athletic.” He says in every other sport you look at the target, and he likens it to throwing a football or shooting a basketball. The bowling motion helps him get a feel for the stroke and distance. That putting stroke helped English birdie four of five par 3s in the second round.
Confidence: Matt Kuchar has the most valuable asset any golfer can possess: confidence. He was 2 over for the round and 3 over for the championship as he began his final nine holes of the second round. Instead of pressing, he had confidence the birdies would come. And they did.
Kuchar birdied the first hole and then added birdies at Nos. 2 and 3. He parred the fourth and fifth holes but went on another three-hole tear with birdies at Nos. 6, 7, and 8. Kuchar said he knew he was playing good golf and had the confidence birdies would come if he stayed patient. He came home in 31 and went from missing the cut to being in contention in a 2-hour stretch.
Scrambling: Adam Scott says he worked on two things this winter: surfing and short game. I don’t know how the surfing came along but his short game is greatly improved. Scott is ranked ninth in scrambling this year after being 123rd in 2012. The ability to get up and down has affected his strategy on the golf course. Scott says his newly honed scrambling ability means he can play conservatively and not force shots during his round. Scott was impressive on Friday playing the par 5s. He birdied every one of them.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Shawn Stefani remains at the head of the pack after two rounds of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank, but he’ll have to hold off some more accomplished names on the weekend.
Stefani followed up his opening 65 at Innisbrook Resort with a 1-under-par 70, leaving him one stroke ahead of Adam Scott and two-time champion K.J. Choi. Jason Dufner is among those another shot back.
“The lead is one thing, but leading on the weekend is another,” said Stefani, a 31-year-old rookie who won twice last year on the Web.com Tour.
“Today I just wanted to go out there and play golf and hit each shot the best I could and really have some fun. That’s really what I did. I really had a lot of fun out there, even though I didn’t really play my best.”
Stefani still produced three birdies on the Copperhead course, his last at the par-3 15th that put him alone in front among the morning groups.
Choi eventually pulled even with his own birdie at No. 15, but couldn’t save par after missing the green at No. 16.
“This course is very comfortable for me,” said the Korean pro, who won the event in 2002 and '06 when it was part of the fall schedule.
Stefani reached the tournament’s halfway checkpoint at 7-under 135. Scott moved up the board quickly with a bogey-free 66 that was one shot off the day’s best.
“To go bogey-free anywhere is good, and I think (to do it) here is particularly good,” the Aussie said. “It’s quite a tricky golf course, and mistakes are easily made.”
Dufner also carded a 66 to move within two of the lead. He was joined by Harris English (69) and lefty Brian Harman (70), former University of
Georgia teammates who have been snakebit on their closing holes.
Both ex-Bulldogs closed with bogeys – one day after they fell from a share of the lead with English’s double bogey and Harman’s bogey.
“You’ve just got to stay so patient out there,” Harman said. “I just missed in a couple of bad spots, and I paid for it.”
Sergio Garcia closed within three shots after posting a 67. Jordan Spieth, runner-up at last week’s Puerto Rico Open after leaving the University of Texas in December, was in striking distance again after a 68 pushed him to within five.
Also moving within five is Erik Compton, the heart-transplant pro whose 65 was the day’s best and jumped him 101 spots on the leaderboard.
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- After finishing third last week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, Adam Scott flew off to get an early preview of Augusta National.
Joining him on the trip: Ernie Els.
Awkward? Not for these longtime friends, even after Els’ second British Open crown came in large part to Scott’s slow-motion implosion over Royal Lytham’s final four holes.
“Whether he won it, or I helped him win it a little bit – it doesn’t matter. He won it,” Scott said after Friday’s second-round 66 moved him into contention at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
“It probably eased the pain a little bit that he’s a close friend of mine, and I could feel some happiness for him.”
Likewise, Els was profuse in his sympathy almost from the moment he took possession of the Claret Jug. Their friendship goes back to when Scott was just starting to make a name for himself, when Els already had won two majors.
Scott, 32, stood at the doorstep of his first major with four holes to play at Royal Lytham, with Els having already completed his round.
Instead, four bogeys provided a stunning reversal of fortune as Els ended a 10-year drought in majors.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen on a golf course,” said Scott, who also took part in an Els for Autism event Monday before they took off for Augusta. “I’ve played so much golf with him and seen him do such incredible things. I think he could have won 10 majors, so he’s paid his dues.”
Rather than lament his loss, Scott takes heart in the fact that he’s now making noise in majors after nearly a decade of silence.
“It was a long time (that) I didn’t really look like I was a major contender,” he said, “and now I feel like I am. So I feel like now’s my time; it’s up to me to make it happen.
“Everyone’s path to that success is different. I mean, (Phil) Mickelson knocked on the door for years and years and then the floodgates opened for him. I’ve gotten my game to a point where I feel like I’m right there. Hopefully I can get the first one, and then we’ll see.”
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Brian Harman and Harris English have a lot of shared experiences from their days at the University of Georgia, and both have spent the week near the top of the leaderboard at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
In one aspect, though, they might prefer disassociate from each other. On both days thus far, promising rounds have been spoiled at the final hole.
“You’ve just got to stay so patient out there,” said Harman, two shots behind leader Shawn Stefani’s pace after closing bogeys each day. “I just missed it in a couple of bad spots, and I paid for it.”
The lefty pulled his drive at No.18, then got a bad break when he watched it kick even farther left. He managed to steer his second shot to the front of the green, but three-putted when he left his first attempt 14 feet short.
“That green is just so tough,” he said. “If I got it anywhere past the hole, it’s going to go off the green. It’s almost kind of like a layup, unfortunately, but you’ve just got to take your medicine sometimes.”
English spent much of Thursday in the lead until a double bogey at Innisbrook’s tough 18th hole. One day later, he was one shot back until a bogey at No.9 after finding a fairway bunker.
“This is a tough golf course,” English said. “You have to hit it really straight and make a lot of putts. The pins are real tough out here and if you hit it in the rough, it’s real hard to make par.”