Daily Wrap-up: Round 3, Valero Texas Open

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April 16, 2011
Staff and wire reports

SAN ANTONIO -- PGA TOUR rookie Brendan Steele birdied Nos. 17 and 18 for a 4-under 68 on Saturday, grabbing sole possession of the Valero Texas Open lead after beginning the day tied with a whopping six other players for the top spot.

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The 28-year-old Californian put his third shot within 15 feet on the par-5 18th, then sunk the putt for his sixth birdie -- offsetting a pair of bogeys.

"I decided to play it a little more conservative and laid it up, and it paid off," Steele said of the birdie to end his round.

That late surge was enough for a one-stroke lead over another up-and-commer, second-year PGA TOUR pro Cameron Tringale, who led by two after 16 holes but hooked his tie shot on No. 18 into the deep rough -- almost reaching a creek. He recovered on the approach, only to miss a 13-foot putt and settle for a 4-under 68.

"I drove it left. I figured if I hit a good drive ... I'd be able to look at it in two, so I just swung hard," said Tringale, who played at Georgia Tech and now lives in Las Vegas.

"I laid up to a pretty good yardage and then just misjudged the wind, really," he said. "Came up short, which was a bad mistake, given all the room behind the hole."

Third-round winds were calmer but still blew to nearly 30 mph at times, after strong gusts Friday saw the field struggle to a second-round scoring average of 75.289, the highest on TOUR since the first-round of the 2008 British Open. Strong winds are forecast once again during Sunday's final round.

"There's going to be good shots that don't end up good and bad shots that end up worse," Steele said.

Another rookie and Californian, Kevin Chappell (70) and 30-year-old Brandt Snedeker (70) were tied for third at 5 under. Steele, Tringale and Chappell, who led UCLA to an NCAA title in 2008, have just a combined 62 starts on TOUR, while Snedeker's only PGA TOUR victory came at the 2007 Wyndham Championship.

Shot of the Day

Cameron Tringale sticks his approach on the par-5 14th hole.

"There's a lot of younger players getting on TOUR quicker now than there ever has been and I think that's really been the difference," Tringale said. He added that he is still new enough on TOUR that almost no one pronounces Tringale (Tren-gal-EE) correctly, instead calling him "Triangle" "Trin-gle" "Trin-nail" "Tri-nail" and a host of other names.

Steele said he's never felt so much pressure on TOUR as he will teeing off tomorrow with the lead.

"I definitely haven't been in this position," he said, adding that a win at the 7,435-yard TPC San Antonio "would validate a lot of things in my career as far being a guy that's just trying to feel his way out here right now as a rookie."

Steele began his round tied for first at 3 under with Chappell, Snedeker, Geoff Ogilvy, Rich Beem, Kevin Sutherland and Charley Hoffman. The seven-way tie was the most crowded leaderboard on the PGA TOUR in a decade. Seven players tied after 36 holes hadn't been seen on the tour since the 1977 Westchester. The record was an eight-way tie at the 2001 Greater Hartford Open.

Tied for fifth at 4 under after three rounds were Augusta, Georgia-native Charles Howell III, who had four straight birdies on the back nine to complement a birdie and a bogey on the front.

"You've got a drivable green on 14 that you can get home in two on, so there are some opportunities out here. But I think the play on this golf course is, keep the ball in play and take it when you can get it," Howell said. "It's easy to get in trouble too."

Even with Howell at 4 under was defending Valero Texas Open champion Adam Scott (70) and Pat Perez who tied the mark for Saturday's best round with a 5-under 67 at a tournament whose motto is "Unapologetically Texan."

Souvenirs included white sticks stenciled with the phrase "Quiet, Y'all" and fashioned to look like the more-serious ones reading simply "Quiet" that course officials held up to silence the crowds of spectators before shots.

The Phoenix-born Perez had an Eagle 2 on No. 5, knocking his tee shot on the green and converting a 25-foot putt to complement four birdies and a bogey on the day.

TPC San Antonio: Saturday
EASIEST HOLE TOUGHEST HOLE
The par-5 14th hole was the easiest with a Saturday scoring average of 4.500.
EAGLES: 4 BIRDIES: 37 PARS: 32 BOGEYS: 4 OTHER: 1
The par-4 9th hole was the toughest with a Saturday scoring average of 4.397.
EAGLES: 0 BIRDIES: 7 PARS: 42
BOGEYS: 21 OTHERS: 8
About the leaders
• The top three players are all in their 20s and have 62 combined starts on TOUR. Charles Howell III (52) and Pat Perez (31), who are T5, have 83 combined top-10 finishes on TOUR.
• Players in their 20s have won three of four on TOUR and four of the last six.
• A player in his 30s has not won since Rory Sabbatini at The Honda Classic, a span of six events. In that span there have been four players in their 20s win and two in their 40s. The last time a player in his 30s has not won in a span of six events was in 2004, when a 41-year-old Vijay Singh won three of the six. In that span in 2004, the only player in his 20s to win was Vaughn Taylor. In 2003, there was a span of eight events where a player in his 30s did not win (six were in their 40s).
• Tringale (23) and Chappell (24) would be the youngest players to win on TOUR since Jason Day (22) won the HP Byron Nelson Championship last May.
• If TOUR rookies Chappell or Steele go onto victory it would mark the first time rookies have won back-to-back events on TOUR since 2002 when Jonathan Byrd won the Buick Challenge and Luke Donald won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. Rookie Charl Schwartzel won the Masters last week.
• The last time rookies won in back-to-back weeks and a Major Championship was one of the wins was in 1999 when Carlos Franco won the Greater Milwaukee Open followed by Paul Lawrie winning the British Open.
• Steele is making his 12th start on TOUR. He has made half of his cuts.
• Steele's best finish on TOUR is T17 earlier this year at the Farmers Insurance Open.
• Steele had never led after any round on TOUR. He had never played a round on TOUR prior to this year.
• Snedeker and Steele are T1 in Total Putts with 77 after three rounds.
• Steele's uncle Anthony Geary plays "Luke" on General Hospital.
• Steele won the 2010 Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island to earn his way on the PGA TOUR. Steele needed to finish at least fourth at Daniel Island to earn one of the 25 TOUR cards from the Nationwide Tour.

Also shooting 5 under was Sweden-born Fredrik Jacobson, who finished second to Scott here last year, and had seven birdies to offset a pair of bogeys and move to 2 under, tied for tenth.

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