For the second straight year, Brendan Steele entered the final round of the Safeway Open lurking a few shots off the lead, needing a low round to contend. Last season, he delivered with a seven-under 65 that erased a four-shot deficit for his second US PGA Tour victory.
This morning, New Zealand time, at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California, he didn’t need a 65, but his final-round three-under 69 was good enough to come back from two shots and defend his title with a 72-hole total of 15-under 273 to begin the 2017/18 US Tour season.
Steele, 34, cruised on the front nine, going out in three-under 33. After dropping shots at the 12th and 14th, his lead shrunk to just one shot, with Phil Mickelson and Tony Finau making a charge. But Steele finished strong, making birdies at the par-5 16th and par-5 18th to win by two shots for the third victory of his career. He’s the first player in the Safeway Open’s 11-year history to win back-to-back.
After making eagle at the par-5 fifth and birdies at the ninth and 13th, Finau found himself just one off Steele’s lead. But his drive at the 14th was way off line, leading to a double-bogey 6. His final-round three-under 69 earned him a solo second finish at 13-under 275.
Mickelson, 47, also got within a shot of the lead after making birdie at the par-5 16th, and hilariously mocking himself in the process. But he made his third bogey of the day at the next hole, and finished with a two-under 70 to tie for third at 12-under 276.
Also finishing at 12-under was Chesson Hadley, who carded a final round one-over 73. It’s his fourth top-five finish in 46 starts on the US Tour.
Graham DeLaet and tour rookie Tyler Duncan, the leader after 54 holes, finished in a tie for fifth at 11-under 277.
Matt Jones was the lone Australian to make the cut, crashing down to a tie for 43rd after a final-round 77.