Golf roundup: Shawn Stefani grabs lead in Tampa
Shawn Stefani is the latest PGA Tour rookie to look comfortable on a big stage.
In breezy conditions on a tough golf course, Stefani never came close to making a bogey until his final hole Thursday in the Tampa Bay Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. He rolled in a par putt from just inside 5 feet to complete a 6-under-par 65 and take a two-shot lead over Brian Harman.
‘‘Kind of fought through a couple of bad shots coming in — or not so great shots — and managed to get balls up-and-down and make a few putts,’’ Stefani said. ‘‘So all in all, today was a great day and looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.’’
There’s not many ‘‘bad’’ shots in a bogey-free round on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook, which some consider the best track on the Florida swing. The course played just more than two shots over par. Only 13 players broke 70, and 25 players broke par.
Harman came up short and into a bunker on the ninth hole and closed with his lone bogey for a 67. Harris English finished on the 18th and also hit into a bunker, except that he three-putted from 40 feet above the hole and had a double bogey. That gave him a 68, tied with Brendan Steele and Tag Ridings.
Geoff Ogilvy, at No. 49 in the world and needing to stay in the top 50 the next three weeks to get into the Masters, was in the large group at 69 that included Lucas Glover, and former champions Vijay Singh and K.J. Choi.
Defending champion Luke Donald opened with a 70 and was angry, a testament to the course. Donald was poised to open with a great round, at 4 under with four holes to play despite missing three birdie chances inside 12 feet.
A poor drive led to bogey on the sixth. His tee shot on the par-3 eighth rolled toward the back of a bunker. And then a flier out of the rough on No. 9 sailed over the green and into a slope in the bunker with little sand. That made three bogeys in four holes, and turned a solid round into a frustrating one.
‘‘At one point I felt I should have been 5 or 6 under,’’ Donald said. ‘‘To walk off with a 70 and play like that is hard to take.”
LPGA — Ai Miyazato took the LPGA Founders Cup lead on a hot afternoon in the desert, playing a late four-hole stretch in 5 under for a tournament-record, 9-under 63.
Returning from a whiplash injury sustained in a five-vehicle crash after the tournament in Thailand, the Japanese star birdied the par-3 14th, holed a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th, and added birdies on the par-4 16th and par-3 17th to open a two-stroke lead.
South Korea’s Jee Young Lee was second. Candie Kung, Brittany Lang, Gerina Piller, and Pornanong Phatlum shot 66.
European — In Greater Noida, India, Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand made eight birdies on the back nine to shoot an 11-under 61 for a five-stroke lead in the first round of the Avantha Masters.