Shawn Stefani did not waver on Friday at the Tampa Bay Championship after sleeping on his first lead on the PGA Tour.
The 2012 Web.com Tour graduate posted a respectable one-under round of 70 to sit at seven under par after two days, holding a one-shot advantage over Adam Scott and K.J. Choi.
Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard after Day 2. For complete scores, visit PGA.com.
|1||Shawn Stefani ||65-70||-7|
|T2||K.J. Choi ||69-67 ||-6|
|T4||Jason Dufner ||71-66||-5|
|T4||Harris English ||68-69 ||-5|
|T4||Brian Harman ||67-70||-5|
|T8||Sergio Garcia ||71-67 ||-4|
|T8||Tag Ridings||68-70 ||-4|
|T10||Ben Kohles ||72-67||-3|
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is certainly showing its teeth, as Stefani's 36-hole total is the highest score to lead on the PGA Tour this season.
That makes Stefani's ability to hold on to the lead all the more impressive in just his ninth start on the big circuit. It wasn't a pretty day by any means as far as ball-striking was concerned, as Stefani hit only four of 13 fairways and 10 of 18 greens.
However, the 31-year-old rookie kept on the grind and managed to hole enough putts and scramble well on extremely difficult, fast greens to maintain a slim advantage.
Considering that Scott is the No. 7 player in the world, being paired with him is going to be quite the experience for Stefani.
Golf Channel's Jason Sobel humorously pondered the dynamic between the two, as the Aussie is clearly the bigger name.
If Shawn Stefani and Adam Scott are paired tomorrow, they'll have a lot to discuss. Stefani says he knows a guy who knows Scott. So there.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) March 15, 2013
Scott matched the low round of the day with a bogey-free 66, capitalizing with birdies on all four par-fives.
A two-time winner of this event, it appears that Choi is returning to form. An opening eagle at the par-five No. 1 set the tone for the veteran, but the end of the round proved to be a test. A bogey at the par-four 16th and an errant tee shot on the subsequent par-three threatened to derail Choi's day.
Who will win the Tampa Bay Championship?
Choi bounced back, though, holing a clutch par putt and capping it off with an outstanding two-putt at the last for a round of 67.
Other notables not far back are Jason Dufner, who equaled Scott's 66 and sits at five under. He is joined by American youngster Harris English and sneaky good second-year tour member Brian Harman. Peter Tomasulo birdied the last to tie for fourth as well.
Only one stroke further behind is Sergio Garcia, who birdied No. 18 to fire a four-under 67 to follow an opening round at even par.
Here is a look at some of the best highlights from Friday's action, courtesy of PGATOUR.com.
Check out this 200-yard approach to the par-three eighth by Stefani, as he sticks it to nine feet and calmly rolls in the uphill putt to bounce back from a prior bogey.
Harman drains this massive putt on the par-three 15th for a rare birdie on the 218-yard hole.
Defending champion Luke Donald couldn't have hit this difficult greenside chip any more perfectly, as the ball rolls in, center cut, at perfect speed on the par-four No. 16.
Unfortunately, he would three-putt the 18th hole to settle for a one-over 72, but Donald is even par for the tournament. Due to the inexperience of current leader Stefani and the fact that Donald is the highest-ranked player in the field, it would be unwise to count him out even though he's seven back.