When Brendan Steele went 70-74 to miss the cut in the John Deere Classic last month, there was a tangible reason: Just before the start of the second round he backed off the practice putting green and stepped in a hole, wrenching his back. The Idyllwild native wasn’t sure he could even finish play that day.
Last week’s story was different. Golf has the reputation of being the most fickle of games: One day you have it wired, the next day it’s gone. Such was Idyllwild native Steele’s experience at the Canadian Open in Ontario, Canada.
Steele opened play on Thursday with a remarkable 65. His driving accuracy was only 64 percent, but he converted that into 83 percent of greens in regulation, and had a terrific proximity-to-pin average of under 24 feet. Add to that a strokes-gained-putting stat of 1.766 and he had finished the first round of the Canadian Open with the outright tournament lead.
But then golf lived up to its reputation. Steele’s game inexplicably deserted him on day two and he ended up posting 65-74-75-74 — 289 for the tournament, which earned him only a tie for 68th place, about $11,000 in prize money, and not quite two FedEx Cup points.
Steele will have another go this week in the Reno-Tahoe Open at the Montreux Golf and Country Club near Reno, Nev. This is the only tournament on the PGA Tour to use a Modified Stableford scoring system instead of the usual low-stroke-count Medal play.
Under Modified Stableford scoring rules, players will earn 2 points for each birdie, but nothing for a par, and lose 1 point for each bogey. Similarly, an eagle is worth 5 points but a double bogey or worse costs only 3. Such a scoring system encourages aggressive play. Last year, Steele tied for eighth at the Reno-Tahoe, earning $87,000.