Brendan Steele fired an 11-under-par 68-66-64-71 — 269 last week to place second in the strong winds and rain of the Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour.
At the end of regulation play on Sunday, the Idyllwild native was tied at the top with Australian Cameron Smith, who eventually prevailed in a one-hole playoff.
Steele’s putting — a weak point in recent times — was outstanding. Over the first three rounds, he gained more than 9.5 strokes against the rest of the field with the flat stick alone.
In a post-round interview, Steele revealed that he has been working with a coach on putting over the past six months, particularly on the “process” — reading greens and speed — rather than on his putting stroke itself. That certainly has paid off.
The 36-year-old’s performance last week lifted him from 150th to 29th on the all-important FedExCup list and from 403rd to 162nd in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The most important takeaway from last week’s play is that Steele, whom many Hill residents have known since he was five, is again playing top golf on the PGA Tour.
Steele plays this week in the $6.2 million American Express Open in nearby La Quinta, where he’s finished as high as second in past years. Why not head on down, cheer him on, enjoy the day and at the same time contribute to charity. Each weekly PGA Tour event raises more than $1 million for local charities.
Steele tees off Thursday from tee No. 1 on the La Quinta Course at 9:50 a.m., Friday from tee No. 10 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at 9:20 a.m., and Saturday from tee No. 1 on the Stadium Course at 8:50 a.m. He’ll be playing with Steve Stricker all three days.