SONY OPEN

Brendan Steele's back-nine 30 gives him three-stroke lead heading into Sunday at the Sony

By Christopher Powers  

Brendan Steele. Photo by Golffile

After winning the Safeway Open in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018, Brendan Steele had what he called his "worst year on tour" in 2019. Thankfully, the calendar recently turned to 2020.

If Steele's first three days at the Sony Open in Hawaii were a cheesy Instagram post, the caption would say "new year, new me." Through 54 holes he's at 12-under 198, three clear of the next closest competitor, Australia's Cameron Smith. Despite bogeying two of his first four holes on Saturday, Steele posted a six-under 64, which included a back-nine 30.

"Two over through four is not the way you're looking to get going," said Steele, who, in addition to his Safeway wins, also won the 2011 Valero Texas Open. "But I felt really comfortable with what I was doing and i was able to stick with it and it paid off."

What's not to feel comfortable about? Steele is second in the field in proximity to the hole, first in strokes-gained: approach and first in strokes-gained: putting. New year, new Brendan.

"All phases of my game are about as good as they've ever been, which is nice [coming off 2019]. I'm really excited about the trajectory and where things are going."

No matter how big his lead is though, Steele's played enough tour events to know this thing is far from over.

"I've been out here long enough to know that it's always difficult," he said. "Just need to stick with everything I'm doing and try to keep the pedal down."

He'll have to fend off Smith, who is looking for his first PGA Tour win, and Kevin Kisner, who sits alone in third at eight under and is in search of his fourth tour win. Webb Simpson, Collin Morikawa and Ryan Palmer are tied for fourth at seven-under 203.

FULL LEADERBOARD

1 Brendan Steele USA -12 F -6 68 66 64 - 198
2 Cameron Smith AUS -9 F -4 70 65 66 - 201
3 Kevin Kisner USA -8 F -6 69 69 64 - 202
4 Webb Simpson USA -7 F -4 71 66 66 - 203
4 Collin Morikawa USA -7 F -2 65 70 68 - 203
4 Ryan Palmer USA -7 F -2 67 68 68 - 203
7 Mark Anderson USA -6 F -6 72 68 64 - 204
7 Sungjae Im KOR -6 F -3 69 68 67 - 204
7 Bo Hoag USA -6 F -1 70 65 69 - 204
7 Keegan Bradley USA -6 F -1 69 66 69 - 204
11 Charles Howell USA -5 F -4 72 67 66 - 205
11 Henrik Norlander SWE -5 F -2 71 66 68 - 205
11 Rory Sabbatini RSA -5 F E 68 67 70 - 205
11 Russell Knox SCO -5 F E 70 65 70 - 205
11 Cameron Davis AUS -5 F +1 68 66 71 - 205
16 Nick Taylor CAN -4 F -3 70 69 67 - 206
16 Peter Malnati USA -4 F -2 72 66 68 - 206
16 Emiliano Grillo ARG -4 F -3 70 69 67 - 206
16 Tom Hoge USA -4 F -3 71 68 67 - 206
16 Patrick Rodgers USA -4 F -1 68 69 69 - 206
16 Ted Potter USA -4 F E 67 69 70 - 206
16 Ben Martin USA -4 F -5 73 68 65 - 206
23 Brendon Todd USA -3 F -1 68 70 69 - 207
23 Zach Johnson USA -3 F E 69 68 70 - 207
23 Graeme McDowell NIR -3 F -3 71 69 67 - 207
23 Tim Wilkinson NZL -3 F E 68 69 70 - 207
23 Vaughn Taylor USA -3 F -4 75 66 66 - 207
23 Rob Oppenheim USA -3 F +2 70 65 72 - 207
23 Pat Perez USA -3 F -4 68 73 66 - 207
30 Nate Lashley USA -2 F -1 70 69 69 - 208
30 Corey Conners CAN -2 F -1 68 71 69 - 208
30 Michael Thompson USA -2 F -1 70 69 69 - 208
30 Matt Jones AUS -2 F E 67 71 70 - 208
30 Brandt Snedeker USA -2 F -1 72 67 69 - 208
30 D.J. Trahan USA -2 F +1 69 68 71 - 208
30 Joel Dahmen USA -2 F -2 74 66 68 - 208
30 Lanto Griffin USA -2 F -2 71 69 68 - 208
30 Sam Ryder USA -2 F +3 67 68 73 - 208
30 Hideki Matsuyama JPN -2 F -3 74 67 67 - 208
30 Jimmy Walker USA -2 F -3 70 71 67 - 208
41 Marc Leishman AUS -1 F +1 68 70 71 - 209
41 Alexander Noren SWE -1 F +1 69 69 71 - 209
41 Matthew NeSmith USA -1 F -1 71 69 69 - 209
41 Michael Gellerman USA -1 F +3 69 67 73 - 209
41 Abraham Ancer MEX -1 F -1 69 71 69 - 209
41 Andrew Putnam USA -1 F +3 69 67 73 - 209
41 Daniel Berger USA -1 F -1 70 70 69 - 209
48 Scott Piercy USA E F +1 70 69 71 - 210
48 Brian Harman USA E F +4 68 68 74 - 210
50 Satoshi Kodaira JPN +1 F +2 69 70 72 - 211
50 Rikuya Hoshino JPN +1 F +1 73 67 71 - 211
50 Kramer Hickok USA +1 F +1 72 68 71 - 211
50 Chase Seiffert USA +1 F +1 71 69 71 - 211
50 Hudson Swafford USA +1 F +5 69 67 75 - 211
50 Jerry Kelly USA +1 F +1 70 70 71 - 211
50 Scott Harrington USA +1 F +1 69 71 71 - 211
50 Talor Gooch USA +1 F E 70 71 70 - 211
58 Rhein Gibson AUS +2 F +3 70 69 73 - 212
58 Joseph Bramlett USA +2 F +2 73 67 72 - 212
58 Carlos Ortiz MEX +2 F +1 72 69 71 - 212
58 Joaquin Niemann CHL +2 F +1 71 70 71 - 212
62 Zac Blair USA +3 F +4 72 67 74 - 213
62 Brian Stuard USA +3 F +2 73 68 72 - 213
62 Harry Higgs USA +3 F +2 73 68 72 - 213
65 Sepp Straka AUT +5 F +6 70 69 76 - 215
66 Mikumu Horikawa JPN +6 F +6 73 67 76 - 216
67 Chris Kirk USA +2 F +2 70 72 - - 142
67 Kyle Stanley USA +2 F +2 70 72 - - 142
67 Sung Kang KOR +2 F +1 71 71 - - 142
67 Aaron Wise USA +2 F +2 70 72 - - 142
67 Matt Kuchar USA +2 F +3 69 73 - - 142
67 Anirban Lahiri IND +2 F E 72 70 - - 142
67 Nelson Ledesma ARG +2 F -2 74 68 - - 142
67 Chris Baker USA +2 F E 72 70 - - 142
67 Rico Hoey USA +2 F -2 74 68 - - 142
67 Vince Covello USA +2 F E 72 70 - - 142
67 Adam Schenk USA +2 F E 72 70 - - 142
67 Bud Cauley USA +2 F E 72 70 - - 142
67 Parker McLachlin USA +2 F -2 74 68 - - 142
67 Sebastian Munoz COL +2 F E 72 70 - - 142
67 Adam Long USA +2 F E 72 70 - - 142
82 Roger Sloan CAN +3 F -1 74 69 - - 143
82 Jamie Lovemark USA +3 F +1 72 71 - - 143
82 Charley Hoffman USA +3 F +2 71 72 - - 143
82 Brice Garnett USA +3 F E 73 70 - - 143
82 Justin Thomas USA +3 F +1 72 71 - - 143
82 Brandon Hagy USA +3 F +1 72 71 - - 143
82 Troy Merritt USA +3 F -2 75 68 - - 143
82 Patrick Reed USA +3 F +4 69 74 - - 143
82 JT Poston USA +3 F +1 72 71 - - 143
82 Chez Reavie USA +3 F E 73 70 - - 143
82 Kevin Tway USA +3 F +1 72 71 - - 143
82 Brian Gay USA +3 F +1 72 71 - - 143
82 Xin-Jun Zhang CHN +3 F E 73 70 - - 143
82 Ben Taylor ENG +3 F E 73 70 - - 143
96 Scott Brown USA +4 F E 74 70 - - 144
96 Jason Dufner USA +4 F +3 71 73 - - 144
96 Chesson Hadley USA +4 F -3 77 67 - - 144
96 James Hahn USA +4 F +5 69 75 - - 144
96 Graham Delaet CAN +4 F +2 72 72 - - 144
96 Patton Kizzire USA +4 F +4 70 74 - - 144
96 Dylan Frittelli RSA +4 F E 74 70 - - 144
96 Ryan Armour USA +4 F +2 72 72 - - 144
96 Kyoung-Hoon Lee KOR +4 F -2 76 68 - - 144
96 David Hearn CAN +4 F +2 72 72 - - 144
106 Tyler Duncan USA +5 F +1 74 71 - - 145
106 Keith Mitchell USA +5 F +2 73 72 - - 145
106 Russell Henley USA +5 F -1 76 69 - - 145
106 Cameron Percy AUS +5 F +2 73 72 - - 145
106 Martin Trainer USA +5 F +3 72 73 - - 145
106 Mackenzie Hughes CAN +5 F +1 74 71 - - 145
106 Kazuki Higa JPN +5 F +1 74 71 - - 145
113 Doc Redman USA +6 F -1 77 69 - - 146
113 Ryuko Tokimatsu JPN +6 F +2 74 72 - - 146
113 Vijay Singh FIJ +6 F +5 71 75 - - 146
113 Hank Lebioda USA +6 F +2 74 72 - - 146
113 Will Gordon USA +6 F +2 74 72 - - 146
113 Tyler McCumber USA +6 F +2 74 72 - - 146
119 Colt Knost USA +7 F +1 76 71 - - 147
119 Tyler Ota USA +7 F +3 74 73 - - 147
119 Jared Sawada USA +7 F +3 74 73 - - 147
119 Sam Burns USA +7 F +5 72 75 - - 147
123 Luke List USA +8 F +2 76 72 - - 148
123 Robby Shelton USA +8 F +2 76 72 - - 148
123 Vincent Whaley USA +8 F -3 81 67 - - 148
123 Doug Ghim USA +8 F +5 73 75 - - 148
127 Eric Dugas USA +9 F +8 71 78 - - 149
127 Shugo Imahira JPN +9 F +1 78 71 - - 149
127 J.J. Spaun USA +9 F +5 74 75 - - 149
127 Tomoyo Ikemura JPN +9 F +3 76 73 - - 149
127 Toru Nakajima JPN +9 F +5 74 75 - - 149
132 Robert Streb USA +10 F +5 75 75 - - 150
133 Alex Beach USA +11 F E 81 70 - - 151
133 Fabian Gomez ARG +11 F +7 74 77 - - 151
133 Jim Herman USA +11 F +10 71 80 - - 151
133 Michael Gligic CAN +11 F +5 76 75 - - 151
133 Kristoffer Ventura NOR +11 F +7 74 77 - - 151
138 Bo Van Pelt USA +12 F +6 76 76 - - 152
139 Andrew Landry USA +13 F +6 77 76 - - 153
139 Smylie Kaufman USA +13 F +5 78 75 - - 153
141 Rafael Campos PRI +14 F +6 78 76 - - 154
141 Ryan Brehm USA +14 F +3 81 73 - - 154
143 Mark Hubbard USA +15 F +7 78 77 - - 155
144 Matt Every USA +4 17* +1 73 - - - 139

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