Tournament Update - Thursday Evening
SHAWN STEFANI TAKES FIRST ROUND LEAD
Shawn Stefani, a 31-year-old rookie from Baytown, Texas, carded a 6-under-par 65, finishing on the 9th hole in gathering darkness to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank. On a day when a number of other competitors saw promising rounds compromised by over-par scores in the final holes, Stefani made four straight pars after getting to 6 under. He earned his PGA TOUR card by ranking 6th on the 2012 Web.com Official Money List after winning twice.
A pair of former University of Georgia players, Brian Harman and Harris English, were among others in the afternoon who contested for the lead before falling back. Harman is 2nd at 4-under-par 67 while English joins Tag Ridings and Brendan Steele at 68.
Only 25 of the 156 golfers broke par on a day when the average score rose to 73.071. Among them were past champions Vijay Singh and K.J. Choi with 2-under 69s and defending champ Luke Donald with a 1-under 70. Geoff Ogilvy had a 69 and Adam Scott, Nick Watney, Jason Day and sponsor’s exemption Patrick Cantlay were other 70s.
The average of 73.071 represents the 2nd-highest 1st round average in tournament history, exceeded only by 73.11 in 2003.
Stefani, pronounced “steff-uh-nee,” will play in the morning on Friday at 9:20 as he attempts to join K.J. Choi in 2002 as the only first round leader to win the tournament.
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Tickets for tournament rounds, priced at $40, are available at the gate or TampaBayChampionship.com. For information on Hooters Owl’s Nest tickets go to Tampa Bay Championship.com. Kids 15 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Active and retired military with a valid common access card are admitted free.