Steele won at TPC San Antonio in 2011. (Carroll/Getty Images)
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- Brendan Steele is in his third season on the PGA TOUR, yet he admits to still trying to figure a few things out.
How to practice. What to eat. Where to play.
Where to play?
“This tournament was an easy one to pick,” Steele said Tuesday morning as he looked out over the practice range at TPC San Antonio while preparing the Valero Texas Open.
While many players tend to shy away from the demanding Greg Norman layout, Steele is a die-hard enthusiast of the Oaks Course at TPC. This is the site of his first and only win on TOUR, posting an 8-under two years ago to clip Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell by a stroke on a leaderboard that also included Brandt Snedeker and Keegan Bradley.
Steele, who turns 30 on Friday, also finished fourth here last year, when a final-round 67 on the par-72 track put him four back of winner Ben Curtis. It was a bright spot on an otherwise dull year.
He failed to repeat a win after that rookie-season triumph in San Antonio, he missed the cut in the Masters (he needs to win this week to get back to Augusta) and he did not advance to the FedEx Playoffs (he's currently 66th in the standings).
That’s where the how-to-eat comment comes into play for Steele’s season.
“It’s really been kind of my new thing for this year,” he said.
Steele has been visiting a nutritionist in his hometown of Irvine, Calif. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Steele doesn’t offer much resistance to the winds he’s facing in Texas.
“He really taught me how to eat so we wouldn‘t have big spikes and crashes out there,” Steele said. “I think it’s been a big difference for me in my consistency. I’ve played pretty solid almost every week this year. I feel like I’m close to having a real big run.”
Though Steele has one top-10 finish (T6 when he shot all sub-70 rounds at the Waste Management Phoenix Open), he has made seven cuts in the eight events he’s played. That’s a much better strike rate than missing 10 cuts in 24 tries last year.
Steele comes to San Antonio off a 38th-place finish at the Shell Houston Open. Perhaps the longer TPC San Antonio (7,522 yards), plays to his game. Steele is 13th in greens in regulation on shots 125 yards and longer at 89 percent.
And when he won here in 2011, his total driving number (combination of rank on driving accuracy and driving distance) was 17.
“Definitely guys that drive the ball well and keep the ball in play do well here,” Steele said. “You’ll see a lot of different clubs off the tees just because guys need to get it in play, somewhere, on some grass, and I’ve been fortunate to not end up in that native stuff past the rough very often the two years I’ve been here. I think that’s the biggest reason I’ve done well here.”