Harrington Sets New Course Record to Lead at Innisbrook

Three former John Deere Classic champions were in the top 10 Thursday at the end of Round 1 of the PGA Tours Transitions Championships in Tampa Bay.

Aussie John Senden (2006) and 53-year-old Kenny Perry (2008) were in a seven-way tie for third after shooting 5-under 66 at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.  Meanwhile, 1997 QC winner David Toms shot a 4-under 67; hes is in a 10-way tie for 10th in a group that included World No. 2 Luke Donald and last weeks champion Justin Rose.  Toms led the Driving Accuracy stat, hitting 92 percent of his fairways.

Leading the tournament is Irelands Padraig Harrington, who set a new course record with a 10-under 61, his lowest round as a pro.  Harrington made a 75-foot putt for birdie on the par 3 17th, the longest of his career.  He leads second-place Will Claxton by three.

As usual, Perry, who plays the Champions Tour mostly these days, was in a good mood after his round but he waxed a little sentimental, too:

"It's good to come back and play with my old buddies.  Anthony [Kim] was a big star at The Ryder Cup there in Louisville on that team that I was part of and that brought back a lot of memories.  It's good to hang out with the guys, see them, say hello. 
I'm fully exempt this year out here.  I could play every week if I wanted to, except for the majors and the World Golf Championships, and I have chosen to play the other tour.  
       So I represent Transitions, and that's why I'm here this week.  They have been a great sponsor for me the past four years.  I hate to see them go.  This is their last year here, so that's sad on my part.  I understand it's a big commitment to be a title sponsor."

"You know what, I'm just enjoying life. I'm just playing where I want to play, go where I want to go. I've got a grandson now, he's a year old and I'm spending more time at home.  My son, who is caddying for me this week, got engaged at the Waste Management on the 18th green, so that was pretty cool.  Now he's here caddying for me this week, again, so we are sharing some special time before he takes off with his career and his life. 
You know, it was funny, a guy told me that I'm in, being a country boy, he says, "You're living in the short rows now." And I'm like, what are you talking about?
And he says, "You know when those farmers have those gigantic fields, you start cutting the corners, those row of corn get real short. He says, You're in the short rows in the game of golf.
I said, yeah, that's probably pretty true.  I have a few more years left out here to play, and I've got a couple more years exemptions, Top-50 all time money or Top-25, if I want to use it. So I can still play a couple more years, if I want to dabble still, like kind of what I'm doing now.  So life's good for KP."

Toward the bottom of the leaderboard were Japans Ryo Ishikawa (+2), 2005 JDC champ Sean OHair (+2), and two good pals from South Africa Louis Oosthuizen (+2), and reigning Masters champion Charl Swartzel (+5).  All will have to shoot low on Friday to earn the right to play on the weekend.

Meanwhile, a couple of players competed in their first rounds after returning from injury.  Hank Kuehne (back) shot 3-over and Scott Verplank (wrist) was at 4-over.


JULY 10 - 16