March 15 2013
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.