Brendan Steele brought his game together in the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the Scottsdale TPC course in Scottsdale, Ariz., last week to post an 18-under-par 69-65-65-67 — 266 to tie for sixth place with two others.
The Idyllwild native’s performance earned him a $207,700 paycheck, bringing his season’s winnings to more than $260,000. He’s now in the 30th spot on the official money list. He also earned 92 FedEx Cup points, raising his position on that list to 32nd place with 145 points.
During last week’s tournament, Steele carded two eagles and 19 birdies against only five bogies all week. His first eagle came in Friday’s second round on the 595-yard par-5 13th hole where he chipped in from 57 feet.
Steele’s second eagle dropped in Sunday’s fourth round on the 554-yard par-5 3rd hole where he was on the green in two and connected with a 10-foot, three-inch putt.
A unique feature of the Scottsdale TPC course is the No. 16 “Stadium Hole,” which is a 162-yard par three set inside a stadium from tee to green. Some players hurl souvenir items into the stands — for example, visors and hats — as they are walking from tee to green at that hole.
The caddies, carrying their players’ bags, foot-race each other through the desert terrain in contests to arrive first at the green. It also is the one hole on the PGA Tour where spectators are encouraged to get raucous and make noise.
Some players such as Bubba Watson even egg the fans on to get loud while they are hitting from the tee. Shots coming close to the pin are rewarded with huge cheers, while those missing the green are roundly booed.
On Saturday, Steele’s tee shot at No. 16 was right on target, hitting the green about a dozen feet short of the pin and directly on line. It scooted past the cup on the left side, missing it by only an inch, and stopped four feet, eight inches away. The roar from the crowd was deafening. Steele cashed in on more cheers when he canned the putt for a birdie two.
Steele’s putting was consistently sharp all week. He sank eight putts of 10 feet or longer, including a 33-foot, 10-incher for birdie on the par-3 4th hole in round three.
After three tournaments, he has not missed a cut or had a double bogey yet this season.
By the way, if you’d like to know a bit more about Brendan Steele personally, there is a very interesting four-and-one-half minute video on YouTube. Just go to www.youtube.com and search for “at home with brendan steele.” YouTube also has several other videos on the native Idyllwilder, including some analyzing his swing.
Steele takes this week off, but will return to action next week in the $6.6 million Northern Trust Open on the Riviera Country Club Course in Pacific Palisades near Santa Monica. The winner’s purse in this tournament is worth more than $1.1 million.