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 in Palm Harbor, Fla.
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.
There are not many “bad” shots in a bogey-free round on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook. The course played just more than two shots over par. Only 13 players broke 70.
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.
THAI LEADS IN INDIA
Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand made eight birdies on the back nine to shoot an 11-under 61 for a five-stroke lead in the first round of the Avantha Masters in Greater Noida, India.
He missed a long putt on the 17th that would have made it nine consecutive birdies for the former world junior champion. He is the youngest winner on the Asian Tour after capturing the Double A International tournament in 2005 at 17.
The leader was followed by a group of five at 6 under.
MIYAZATO LEADS ON LPGA
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.
The Japanese star birdied the par-3 14th, made a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th and birdied the par-4 16th and par-3 17th to open a two-stroke lead.
“I just had a good feeling this morning,” Miyazato said. “… The weather is just awesome.”