Luke Donald to defend Tampa Bay Championship title

Warren Little

Luke Donald hopes to take care of business at the Snake Pit in more efficient fashion than he did last week at the Blue Monster.

The world No. 3 is looking to defend his Tampa Bay Championship title with a stronger showing than the T43 he racked up at Tiger’s Tourney. The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort -- where golf watchers call the final three punishing holes the "Snake Pit" -- should be just to the liking of the Englishman who’s not long off the tee but one of the maestros of the short game.

“Yeah, I've always enjoyed this golf course. I think it's a good golf course for me,” Donald told Ben Coley on Monday, ahead of this week’s continuation of the PGA Tour’s Florida swing. "You really have to have good course management around here. A lot of placing of the tee shot rather than just standing up and hitting away.

"There's a lot of tactical stuff involved with this course,” said Donald, who sat atop the world golf rankings for parts of 2011 and 2012. “I like this course."

Despite last week’s lackluster finish, Donald has rather enjoyed navigating around the tracks in the Sunshine State. Indeed, all three of his official tour stroke-play wins have been in Florida -- including last year’s triumph in a four-way playoff.

Even with the noticeable absences of golf’s marquee players, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, Donald will have to contend with a stalwart field that includes four of the top 10 players in the world. Reigning U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson is one of them.

Simpson is coming off a T20 finish at Doral but he'll be reunited with his long-time caddie, Paul Tesori, who has recovered from surgery on his right shoulder.

Donald, who beat Jim Furyk, Sang-moon Bae, and Robert Garrigus in extra innings in 2012, will play alongside Furyk and K.J. Choi on Thursday and Friday. Simpson will go out with Sergio Garcia, who had a strong (T3) finish last week, and Martin Kaymer, who did not (T49).

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