Steele makes amends at PGA Tour opener
Photo Source: AP
A year after squandering victory, Brendan Steele gained redemption by closing with birdies on the final three holes to snatch a one-stroke victory at the Safeway Open, the opening event on the US PGA Tour.
Steele, hardly sighted on the leaderboard all week, timed his finishing sprint perfectly with a seven-under-par 65 at a soggy Silverado Resort in Napa.
He sank a seven-footer at the last to finish at 18-under 270 and claim his second PGA Tour victory, five years after winning the 2011 Texas Open.
Third-round leader Patton Kizzire (70) made a mess of the par-five 18th, but salvaged a par to claim second place on 17-under in the opening event of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season.
John Senden (69), Cameron Smith (70) and Brett Drewitt (69) were the best of the Aussies in a tie for 35th at eight under, a massive 10 shots off the pace.
For local hope Steele, 33, it was his first victory since ditching the long putter.
"Home state (and) now I'm going back to the Masters," he told Golf Channel.
"First one with the short putter, too. I'm really proud of that. Making that transition's been a little tough. That's all amazing."
Steele's victory came on the same course where he held the 54-hole lead last year but could not close the deal, eventually finishing equal 17th.
"This is a little redemption for last year," he said. "I had the lead and bogeyed five of the last seven.
"It's nice to close it off this way. I thought maybe I was only going to win once on the tour. I put myself in position a lot but didn't really execute down the stretch."
Steele's fast finish started with a tap-in birdie at the par-five 16th, before he curled an 18-footer in the side door at the par-four 17th.
Runner-up Kizzire was a staggering 56 from 56 with the putter for the tournament, but paid the price for being wayward off the tee.
"My ball-striking wasn't there all week," he said.
"My putting is what saved me. I didn't finish off. I'm really disappointed."