NAPA Brendan Steele opened his Safeway Open title defense Thursday with a 7-under 65 for a share of the lead with Tyler Duncan and Tom Hoge in the PGA Tours season opener. "This place is so great to me".
"I feel like I've been playing pretty well".
But he rallied to card a six-under round of 66 with three birdies and an eagle in his last five holes to sit at 13 under and is 7/1 - alongside Chesson Hadley and Tony Finau.
He ended joint-third with Chesson Hadley at 12 under - the 47-year-old's highest finish in a Tour event since being the runner-up at the 2016 Open Championship. The season includes eight events in the fall, all of which award FedExCup points.
Steele also used the same Wilson FG Tour 100 muscleback blade irons that he employed at the Safeway past year. It seems safe to say that familiarity with his clubs is comforting to Steele in the clutch.
"I played really well the whole day", Hoge said.
Starting the day just two shots off the lead, Steele went out and carded a 3-under-par 69 and repeated as the tournament champion, finishing the week at 15-under 273.
Making his tournament debut, PGA TOUR rookie and World No. 73 Peter Uihlein stumbled to a 1-over-par 36-37=73 in the second round of the Safeway Open and at 4-over 75-73=148, missed the cut by five shots.
"I hit a lot of good shots, rolled and a lot of good putts and was able to watch Chesson go insane".
"I hit a good putt on 18. It was still pretty cool".
Leader, Duncan, is playing his first PGA Tour event as a cardholder and after a strong opening round and an impressive start to round two he appeared to be losing his way early in the back nine with three consecutive bogeys. Phil Mickelson got within one with two to play but then bogeyed 17.
"Those are the only people I know that have had such success in one season multiple times, and they've had to deal with resetting their goals and re-evaluating", he said. Thomas made the choice easy when he closed with a 66 at East Lake to finish one shot behind in the Tour Championship, which allowed him to win the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.