Brendan Steele. Photo by Jack Clark

Last week, Brendan Steele justified the praise of his super fans André Pilon and Pierrette Filon of Montreal that he does not give up. (Read the article here.)

When play in the Waste Management Phoenix Open was suspended for darkness during Thursday’s first round, he was tied for 104th place. Friday’s play would be an effort just to make the cut for the final two rounds. By Sunday evening, he had climbed to a 5th-place finish — his best of this season — earning $222,650 dollars and 100 FedEx Cup points.

Steele sank a 13-foot, 7-inch putt on the 72nd hole on Sunday, culminating a blistering round of 64 that tied one other golfer for the lowest round of the day. His 11-under-par 71-69-69-64 — 273 performance placed him four strokes back of the eventual winner.

For the tournament, Steele put together an eagle and 14 birdies against only five bogeys. In his bogey-free fourth round, Steele pounded drives averaging 318 yards and reached 83 percent of the greens in regulation, despite hitting only 57 percent of the fairways.

He putted lights out on Sunday, needing only 26 putts, averaging 1.533 puts per green in regulation, and gaining a whopping 3.877 strokes putting, which is a PGA Tour statistic that was introduced only last May. (See box below.)

Because of his win last year in the Valero Texas Open, Steele already has earned his PGA Tour player’s card for 2013. But if he did have to compete on the money list for the top 125 this year, he would have to win around $700,000 or $800,000 for the season, based on recent years. He now has earned $302,018 in official winnings this young season, currently placing him 27th on the official money list. In addition, he is currently 31st on the FedEx Cup point list.

This week Steele competes in the $6.4 million AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am played on multiple courses in Northern California, where the winner’s share will be more that $1.1 million.

Explanation of Strokes Gained Putting
On the PGA Tour, Strokes Gained Putting is a measure of putting proficiency from various distances.

It compares a player’s putting performance on every green to the other players for each round. This reveals the number of strokes gained or lost due to putting for a particular round, for a tournament, and over the course of a year.

More specifically, based on data from the previous season, Strokes Gained Putting computes the average number of putts a PGA Tour player is expected to take from every distance. The player’s actual number of putts is subtracted from the expected average to determine strokes gained or lost.

For example, last season the average number of putts used by PGA Tour players to hole out from 7 feet, 10 inches was 1.5, so if a player one-putts from that distance, he gains 0.5 strokes. But if he two-putts, he loses half a stroke, and if he three-putts, he loses 1.5 strokes. A player’s strokes gained or lost putting can then be compared to the other players in the tournament. So if a player gained a total of three strokes over the course of a round and the field gained an average of one stroke, the player’s Strokes Gained Against the Field would be two.

Essentially, this tells us how well or poorly a player is putting compared to the rest of the field for the day or tournament.