April 19 2011
Life has been "pretty surreal" for Brendan Steele since he won the Valero Texas Open on Sunday.
"It's hard to put into words," Steele said Tuesday, less than 48 hours after picking up his first PGA TOUR victory. "I am still not even sure it really happened. It is beyond my wildest dreams."
Among the many perks of that victory was a berth in The Heritage this week, and Steele spent a few minutes with the media on Tuesday prior to playing his first practice round at Harbour Town.
A year ago, the Californian was playing his third season on the Nationwide Tour. He went into the finale, the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island , ranked 30th on the money list -- and won to secure his PGA TOUR card.
The rookie said that win at Daniel Island, which is just up the South Carolina coast from Hilton Head, was a "big push" to his career. Steele squandered a five-stroke lead in the final round but hung tough to beat Colt Knost with a birdie on the fourth playoff hole.
"The line is pretty fine," Steele said when asked about the level of competition on the Nationwide Tour and the PGA TOUR. "The top of the Nationwide Tour, they can all play out here, and the guys in the middle are working way toward the top. It's kind of that revolving door.
"It's such a great place to play. It really prepares you well."
Even so, Steele had struggled to find his comfort zone on TOUR prior to last week's breakthrough victory. His best finish was a tie for 17th in San Diego, and Steele hadn't finished higher than 38th in eight starts since.
"I was playing a lot better than my scores were showing or my results were showing," Steele said. "So I went home, talked with my coach. (I told him) nothing was wrong with my game, my attitude wasn't good. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I was seeing the trouble rather than where I should hit it.
"(Last week) I made a conscious effort on my attitude. I tried to play every shot like it was the only one that mattered. I was literally over the ball (thinking) I don't care where it goes, just line it up and let it rip." – Helen Ross