Los Angeles - Brendan Steele erased the bitter memory of
last year's final-round failure, finishing with three straight birdies on
Sunday to win the rain-soaked US PGA Tour Safeway Open.
Steele, who led through 54 holes last year but carded a
final-round 76 as rookie Emiliano Grillo powered to the crown, carded a
seven-under par 65 at Silverado Resort in Napa, California for an 18-under
total of 270.
He was a shot clear of 54-hole leader Patton Kizzire, who
carded a 70 for 271.
England's Paul Casey fired a 69 to head a group sharing
third on 272 along with South Korean-born American Michael Kim and Americans
Johnson Wagner and Scott Piercy.
Kim closed with a 67 while Wagner and Piercy both signed for
"This one's awesome," Steele said of his second US
PGA Tour title. "Home state, start the year out, know I'm going back to
the Masters - that's all amazing," said the Californian, whose only prior
tour victory came at the 2011 Texas Open.
"Then, this is a little bit of redemption from last
year. I led through 54 holes here last year and even into the back nine and
really struggled," added Steele, who shot 40 on the back nine last year.
"So it's nice to close it off this way."
Also encouraging for the 33-year-old Californian, it was his
first win since the rules change banning the belly-anchored putter he used in
his prior triumph.
"I'm really proud of that," he said. "Making
that transition has been tough."
In a week marred by multiple weather delays as downpours
made the course unplayable, Steele finished things off in style with a two-putt
birdie at 16, an 18-foot birdie at 17 and a seven-footer for birdie at the
Kizzire had led going into the final round, having closed
out his rain-disrupted third round on Sunday morning with a 16-foot birdie putt
that gave him a one-shot edge.
He was three-under through 11 holes of the final round
before a bogey at 12, and couldn't find another birdie from there.
He made a solid par save at the par-five 16th, where he was
at the base of a tree off the tee. But after Steele's birdie binge he arrived
at 18 needing a birdie to force a playoff and missed the green with his
"It was fun, it was intense," Kizzire, entering
his second season as a US PGA Tour member, said of contending for a first
title. "My ball striking wasn't there all week. I was able to get it on
the green though ... my putting is what saved me. It was fun -- I didn't finish
The tournament was the first event in the US PGA Tour's
2016-17 season and boasted few of golf's marquee names.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who came into the
event riding high on the emotion of America's Ryder Cup victory, closed with a
67 that left him in a share of eighth, four shots off the lead.
Former world number one Tiger Woods had targeted the event
for his return to competition after a 14-month injury absence, but the 14-time
major winner thought better of it on Monday, saying his game was still not up
to competition standard.
Leading scores on Sunday after the final round of the US PGA Tour Safeway Open in Napa, California (USA unless noted):
270 - Brendan Steele 67-71-67-65
271 - Patton Kizzire 64-71-66-70
272 - Paul Casey (ENG) 64-68-71-69, Michael Kim 73-67-65-67, Johnson Wagner 65-67-70-70, Scott Piercy 62-67-73-70
273 - Kevin Na 71-66-70-66
- Chris Kirk 73-65-70-66, Justin Thomas 75-66-66-67, Phil Mickelson
69-69-69-67, Cody Gribble 67-69-70-68, Martin Laird (SCO) 67-68-68-71
275 - Mackenzie Hughes (CAN) 69-69-69-68, Kim Whee (KOR) 69-71-66-69
- Derek Fathauer 68-68-74-66, Harold Varner 71-67-73-65, Jon Rahm (ESP)
66-71-72-67, Vaughn Taylor 70-67-74-65, Troy Merritt 66-67-74-69
277 Jamie Lovemark 70-71-70-66, Bill Haas 66-70-71-70
278 - Trey Mullinax 69-67-73-69, Kyle Stanley 65-73-71-69, Keegan Bradley 69-72-71-66, Chez Reavie 69-70-68-71