By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- The last time most of us saw Brendan Steele, he was plummeting down the leaderboard at the PGA Championship.
Steele had shared the lead with Jason Dufner entering the final round at the Atlanta Athletic Club. But a final-round 77 left Steele a distant 17th while his good buddy Keegan Bradley went on to beat Dufner in a playoff.
Steele, who won the Valero Texas Open earlier this year, has moved past that disappointing Sunday, though. While he missed the cut in his next start at The Barclays, the Californian has steadily climbed the leaderboard this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Sunday's 67 helped Steele move into a tie at 10 under with Jason Day, Chez Reavie, Jerry Kelly and Adam Scott. The five will start the final round at TPC Boston one stroke behind Bubba Watson -- and Steele's experience at the PGA can only be a confidence-builder.
"It definitely hurt a lot right when I got done, especially, and it didn't even hurt so much that I didn't win the golf tournament, it just hurt that I didn't have really the game that I wanted to take out there," Steele said. "A solid finish would have been big for me; something top 5, top 10 I would have taken a lot from.
"But looking at the positives, I led a major through three rounds. It wasn't a one round kind of fluke, who-is-this-guy-type thing. I was up there with the best players in the world through three rounds, so can definitely take a lot from that. And then also having a win this year and a win at the end of last year in the Nationwide Tour Championship, I feel pretty confident about my game and where it sits compared to the best players in the world."
Steele knows Playoffs pressure, too. A year ago, he entered the finale at Daniel Island ranked 30th on the Nationwide Tour money list -- with only the top 25 earning their TOUR cards for 2011. Steele won the tournament, though, and ended up jumping safely to No. 6.
Steele's round got off to a solid start on Sunday when he made a 6-footer for par at the first hole which "kind of got my round going the right day," he said. The rookie followed that with a 6-iron to 27 feet at the par-5 second for eagle.
"Sometimes those par saves are more important than even hitting a good shot in there," he said. "We were off and running there."
Steele made two birdies and two bogeys over his next 15 holes. But he finished with a flourish, staking a 5-iron to 4 feet for his second eagle of the day.
"So that's always a nice way to finish and jump up the board a little bit," he said.