PALM HARBOR — Temperatures in the upper 40s and a strong breeze greeted players who had morning tee times at the Tampa Bay Championship on Innisbrook's Copperhead Course, and the weather didn't get much better throughout Thursday.
That's not how it usually is in Tampa Bay in mid March, and some players weren't prepared.
"It was freezing," said Tag Ridings, who teed off at 7:50 a.m. and shot 3-under 68, good for third, three shots behind leader Shawn Stefani. "I'm underpacked this week. I've got no sleeves. I had a short rain vest that really wasn't warm enough."
Brendan Steele, who also shot 68 in the morning, said he knew when he woke up that it was going to be a rough day. "We're staying on Clearwater Beach," he said. "We go outside, and it's windy and cold and dark, and I was like, 'Oh, this is going to be a rough one (Thursday).' "
Ridings high: Though there were plenty of surprises on top of the leaderboard after the first round, Ridings might have been one of the bigger ones. He has played in six tournaments and missed four cuts this season, including the three straight. "(I've been) a lot off," he said. "It's just minor details, like if you aim where you want it to go, it helps."
Chip ins: Stefani (pronounced Stephanie) has been called Gwen more than a few times on tour, for the singer with the last name spelled the same but pronounced Steff-ON-knee. "That's fine," he said. "I'm cool with that. It's kind of fun." … Peter Tomasulo, in a group of eight at 2 under, is playing on a medical exemption. Entering the year he had eight events to make $539,256. In four he has earned $52,256. … Doug LaBelle withdrew after shooting 9-over 80.