By Paul Myers
It is hard to win on the PGA Tour. Okay – so that is probably a bit of an understatement. More accurately, it is incredibly hard to win a tournament on the PGA Tour. Each week the fields are filled with countless high-quality players, as the PGA Tour represents the gold standard in the world of golf. Plenty of excellent players compete for their entire careers on the Tour without actually managing to secure a single trophy.
With that in mind, it is rather impressive to think about the feat that was accomplished this past weekend by Brendan Steele. In the 2015 version of the Safeway Open, Steele was in great position to claim the title – but ran into trouble on the final day, shooting a 76 to fall well off the pace. It was no doubt a painful loss for Steele, who fell all the way back to a tie for 17th after his 40 on the back nine.
2016 is a new year, however, and Steele once again put himself in position to claim the title at the first PGA Tour event of the new season. The outcome, of course, was a much better one this time around, as a final round 65 – including birdies on the last three holes – vaulted him to the title. Redemption can be hard to find in the hyper-competitive world of professional golf, but Steel located it in California for a great start to his year.
There were other players with a chance to catch Steele down the stretch, either to force a playoff or to win the event outright. The best opportunity belonged to Patton Kizzire, who needed to play the final seven holes in even par to get into a playoff with Steele. That didn’t happen, however, as a bogey on #12 and six subsequent pars meant that Kizzire would finish one shot off the mark. Others coming close at the Safeway Open included Paul Casey, Michael Kim, Scott Piercy, and Johnson Wagner. Phil Mickelson followed up his quality play at the Ryder Cup with a good showing in California, posting a total of -14, which was good for a T8 finish.
With the Safeway Open in the rear view mirror, the PGA Tour goes on quite a road trip – all the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. Justin Thomas is the defending champion of the event, which will mark the second PGA Tour stop of the 2016-2017 season. Plenty of the top names in the golf world will be on hand in Kuala Lumpur, including Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Paul Casey, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Hideki Matsuyama, and many more.