Though this week's event is staged along Florida's Gulf Coast, the leaderboard featured a pair of Georgia Bulldogs for much of Thursday afternoon. Here's the skinny heading into the second round at the Tampa Bay Championship, where Texan Shawn Stefani leads by two:
What it means: After yielding relatively low scores the last three years, the Copperhead Course bit back Thursday amid difficult scoring conditions. Cooler, windy weather made things especially difficult for the morning wave, but Innisbrook still remained tough for the afternoon group on a day when only 25 players among the 156-man field were able to break par.
Round of the day: Despite having only one top-50 finish in six PGA Tour starts this year, Stefani made it look easy Thursday in Tampa. The Texas native opened his round with birdies on his first two holes and added four more, ultimately hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation en route to a bogey-free 65.
Best of the rest: Low rounds were turned in by former Georgia teammates English and Harman, though both were tarnished by blemishes on their final holes. English carded a double-bogey 6 on the 18th after finding a poor lie in the greenside bunker, dropping him back to 3 under, while Harman made his lone bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day, which left him with a round of 4-under 67.
Biggest disappointment: Twice a winner here and having finished inside the top 30 each of the last four years, Retief Goosen was a popular sleeper pick heading into the week. After an opening round of 5-over 76, though, the South African is unlikely to make the 36-hole cut. (Dis)-honorable mention also goes to Matt Kuchar, who was 3 under heading to the Snake Pit before doubles on Nos. 16 and 18 derailed his opening round, leaving him with a 1-over 72.
Main storyline heading into Friday: With similar conditions expected tomorrow, can the relatively unknown group currently atop the leaderboard maintain their position? Steele is the only player in the top five with a PGA Tour win to his credit, and several top players remain within striking distance, including defending champion Luke Donald (-1), Adam Scott (-1) and Sergio Garcia (even).
Shot of the day: At the 575-yard 11th hole, Troy Matteson's second shot left him short and right of the green. When his 26-yard pitch from the rough found the hole, though, Matteson left the par-5 hole with an eagle, a highlight in a tumultuous round that also featured four birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey.
Quote of the day: "It felt more like a major championship today. Usually the lead at the U.S. Open is a few under after the first round at least, even if the winning score ends up being over par." - Steele
Tags: Tampa Bay Championship
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