Steele off to hot start in defence of title

Arnold Nichols
October 10, 2017

Hadley birdied two of his last three holes Sunday to join Mickelson at 12 under.

Two strokes behind surprising leader Tyler Duncan entering the final round, Steele birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to gain his third PGA Tour victory.

Zach Johnson, the 12-time PGA Tour victor playing the event for the first time, had a 68 with five birdies and a bogey.

Zac Blair (66) and Tony Finau (65) were 9 under, and Graham DeLaet (67) and Brian Davis (66) were another stroke back.

Among the standout shots was a deft chip from a bunker on the par-five 16th which led to an easy two-foot par for a birdie.

"It (winning) really was a good springboard for me a year ago", Steele said. Finau then got in at 13 under with a closing birdie, but Steele finished par-birdie to post at 15 under. The putt that Steele said was "huge", however, was the seven-foot, six-inch putt for bogey on No. 14. At one point during the day, Steele and Finau were tied atop the leaderboard at 14-under.


"I'm getting pretty spoiled winning the first event of the year twice", said Steele, the 34-year-old from the Southern California mountain town of Idyllwild. "I was hitting great shots, good putts and got some good breaks". It's his third career victory on the PGA Tour.

"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.

The 2017-18 PGA Tour season-opening event proved be quite fruitful for the 47-year-old as he finally delivered on the course when it mattered. A bogey-free 7-under 65 put Hatton, a second-round co-leader, at 18-under 198 and in a commanding position to defend the title he won by four shots previous year.

"Lefty" ultimately came up three shots shy after his final round 70, which included five birdies and three bogeys. A member of the PGA Tour since the 2011 season, Steele shot a combined 12-under par in the first two rounds of the Safeway Open.

Sangmoon Bae carded a one-over 73 on his return to the PGA Tour after serving military service in his native South Korea, dropping four shots in a row but scoring birdies on the 12th and 18th.

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