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Golf: PGA Tour rookie Stefani takes lead at Tampa Bay

Published March 14, 2013 7:25 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Palm Harbor, Fla. • Shawn Stefani is the latest PGA Tour rookie to look comfortable on a big stage.

It just took him a little longer to get there.

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. He rolled in a par putt from just inside 5 feet to complete a 6-under 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 a pair of past champions in Vijay Singh and K.J. Choi.

Stefani is a 31-year-old from the Houston area who finally made it to the PGA Tour by finishing 16th on the Web.com Tour money list.

LPGA Tour

Ai Miyazato took the LPGA Founders Cup lead on a hot afternoon in the Phoenix 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. —

Leaderboard

Brian Harman