By Kyle Foster
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
This is going to be fun, with ten players four strokes apart from one another entering the final day of the PGA Tour’s first event of the wrap-around schedule it was going to be interesting.
Brendan Steele who has been in the hunt for the win all weekend long was sitting pretty at -3 for the day, which did give him the lead at -15 overall thru 10 holes. He fell to 14 under on the 14th hole, birdies on 16 and 18 cemented his repeat as Safeway Open champion. He now has clinched his spot in the Masters, Players, U.S. Open, and the British Open major tournaments, he’s also now exempt through the 2019-20 season, to go along winnings of $1.08M from the tournament with 500 FedExCup points.
“Yeah, I like standing here with you late on Sunday,” Steele happily said afterwards with Silverado co-owners Johnny Miller, and Tim Wall, along with Thomas Keller owner of French Laundry, and tournament director Jeff Sanders in the post-tournament ceremony.
Winds of 13 MPH played a big factor in who was going to win the tournament. Steele said he was having to think of his shots on the fly from hole to hole. It’s a major reason he’s a back-to-back winner at Silverado.
“Yeah, yeah, the greens, you could tell they were going to get firm all week,” he explained of Sunday’s test of conditions on the course. “They were firming up in the afternoon, and then I had seen the weather forecast for the whole week that Sunday was going to be windy and it seems like Sunday’s always the hardest day on the PGA Tour for whatever reason, the weather comes in. That was about as hard as it can play out there. It was blowing really hard, balls were bouncing all over the place down the fairway. I was hitting some drives that I couldn’t believe how far they were going.
“So it made it really tough to play. The downwind holes were probably tougher than the into-the-wind holes. Changed everything from the last few days, but that was probably about as good a round of golf as I’ve ever played.”
He now joins repeat winners like Silverado’s on Johnny Miller, and the great Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, and Billy Casper.
“Yeah, that is an unbelievable list,” the champ explained. “So I know I’m obviously not to the caliber of those players, but any time you’re mentioned in the same breath as any of those guys, that’s a nice accomplishment. So I will definitely cherish that and I’m excited to get back here next year.”
Mickelson was one of many who struggled on the day. Thru the front nine he was sitting at +1 — in the previous three rounds before he had played those holes very well. He started his back nine with a birdie on 10 to put him at even. Mickelson was a shot off the lead after the 16th hole, he needed to birdie the final three holes to win. He finished 3rd in the tournament his 27th third place finish in his career.
“I knew I needed to birdie the last three, and unfortunately the tee shot on 17, if I hit the fairway there, that’s a birdie pin,” he explained of his round coming up just short. “I missed it where you couldn’t miss it and made bogey. But I birdied 18. So if I make birdie on 17, it looks like I still would have come up a shot shy, but I would have made a good run.”
In the final round leader Tyler Duncan fell. Coming in the leader through the first three rounds was sitting at -14, he was at +4 on the day through seven holes, bogeying his first three holes was what took him out of contention. He finished the day at +3, and the tournament at -11 overall good fora share of fifth.
Bud Cauley who shot a 66 yesterday, and was in the final group, but he was one over par at 17, on 18 he bogeyed to go to two over on the day. He finished the tournament in seventh.
Tony Finau was arguably the biggest mover in the final round. He started the round at -10 overall, and through 12 holes he was at -4 for the day which gave him a tie for the lead with Steele. On the 13th hole he double bogeyed to move him back to second place at 12 under.
“Yeah, I hit a good putt on 18, I thought I made it so that was tough,” Finau said afterwards “I hit a perfect putt. Hard to judge the speed right hitting into the shade. So I gave myself a good chance there and looks like I’ll probably be a shot short unfortunately. Kind of a tough spot to be in. I played some good golf this week and honestly I was happy with the way I hung in there. I didn’t feel great over the ball. I didn’t hit a lot of quality shots off the tee coming in like I needed to, but still put myself in a situation where a playoff or a win with that putt on 18, it was still pretty cool. So positives taken away from this and we’ll still have a lot so we’ll see what happens.”
The PGA Tour will now head to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the $7M purse CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur October 12th-15th.