Brendan Steele closed on Saturday and Sunday at Riviera with a pair of 69s to post a 2-under-par_74-70-69-69 -- 282, placing him tied for 14th, only 4 strokes off the winning score. He posted an eagle and 12 birdies against 12 bogies.
The pros spoke of the course as playing U.S. Open tough with kikuyu grass primary rough that grabs club heads, making finding the fairway with drives imperative. The greens were hard and fast, so approaches were hard to hold and downhill putts were often treacherous.
Overall, Steele found 50 percent of the fairways with drives averaging 309 yards, his longest being 338 yards. He hit 63.89 percent of the greens in regulation.
The Idyllwild native gained a whopping 7.451 strokes on the field tee-to-green, while gaining an additional 0.497 putting — or 0.124 putting, depending upon which page of the PGA Tour website you read. He needed 1.826 putts per green, which works out to about 33 putts per round. If just one more putt per round drops, Steele ties for the lead and joins the playoff.
Steele picked up 54.5 FedExCup points and has 409 for the season, ranking 25th on the points list. He may already have the points he'll need to obtain his card for next season, but you sense that that is not a concern anymore. This is not the player I once saw 7-putt the 18th green at Rivera during his early years on the tour. Steele is now a veteran pro who can shrug off a couple of bogies and take one shot st a time because he knows a string of birdies is still out there.
Steele and the PGA Tour now head for the Florida Swing, where he'll play next week in the $6.1 million Honda Classic on the PGA National (Champion) course in Palm Beach Gardens.