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The Tour Report

March 8 2013

7:49 PM

First Look: Tampa Bay Championship

Luke Donald is one of six of the world's top 20 in the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
(Carroll/Getty Images)

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

• FULL FIELD: Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank

• COURSE: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), 7,340 yards, par 71. With tree-lined fairways and rolling terrain, the 1972 Larry Packard design offers a far different visual opposed to the flatter layouts around the rest of the Florida Swing. Double doglegs await on two par-5s, putting a premium on positioning to reach the green in two. The final three holes have been dubbed the “Snake Pit,” with two bruising par-4s sandwiched around the 215-yard 17th. Innisbrook served 24 years as host of the JC Penney team event pairing PGA TOUR and LPGA pros, then became a regular stop in 2000.

• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

• CHARITY: Copperhead Charities Inc., which distributes funds to more than 50 Tampa Bay-area charities. The Copperheads have raised more than $30 million since the group’s inception in 1978.

• FIELD WATCH: Defending champion Luke Donald is joined by six other pros among this week’s top 20 in the world rankings. The list also includes World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play champ Matt Kuchar (No.8), along with No. 5 Louis Oosthuizen and No. 7 Adam Scott. … Kuchar is among three of this season’s winners in the lineup, along with Brian Gay (Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation) and Michael Thompson (The Honda Classic). … British Open titleholder Ernie Els, who bogeyed last year’s final two holes to fall short of a playoff, makes his return after becoming a late addition.

• 72-HOLE RECORD: 266, Vijay Singh (2004).

• 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Padraig Harrington (1st round, 2012).

• LAST YEAR: Donald emerged from a four-man playoff with a birdie on the first extra hole, returning to No. 1 in the world rankings after two weeks behind Rory McIlroy. Donald needed a sizzling 5-under-par 66 to get into the playoff, then disentangled himself from the rough at No. 18 with a 7-iron that stopped 6 feet below the hole. Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Sang-Moon Bae shared runner-up honors on a day in which six players were tied for the lead at one point down the stretch. The biggest hurt belonged to Els, whose bogey-bogey finish cost him the lead, a playoff berth – and eventually a trip to the Masters.

• STORYLINES: Donald, who keeps a home in Palm Beach Gardens, tries for a third Florida victory in the past three years. He also won at Disney to end the 2011 season, locking up the PGA TOUR money title. Donald hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in his past seven Florida starts. … Garrigus, whose lone victory came at Disney in 2010, owns five runner-up finishes in the past 14 months. The Arizona pro has placed lower than 16th just once in 2013. … Furyk seeks to bounce back from a gut-wrenching 2013 that also included late stumbles at the U.S. Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and Ryder Cup. His 2010 victory at Innisbrook was one of three on the way to the FedExCup crown.

• SHORT CHIPS: Copperhead’s “Snake Pit” ranked No. 4 among last year’s toughest closing three-hole stretches, averaging .519 strokes above par. That trailed only Muirfield Village (the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance), Quail Hollow (Wells Fargo Championship) and Augusta National (Masters). … Until last year, the event had never experienced a playoff. Donald’s victory was his first PGA TOUR playoff win, following setbacks at Torrey Pines in 2004 and Hilton Head in 2011. … Tommy Gainey makes his ninth start already this season. He played each of the first seven, but has taken two of the past three weeks off. … Tampa Bay got a boost last week when EverBank signed on as a presenting sponsor.

• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. ET (GC), 3-6 p.m. ET (NBC).

• SIRIUS/XM PGA TOUR RADIO: Thursday- Sunday, noon-6 p.m. ET.

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