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.