Steele wins Safeway with birdie-birdie-birdie finish

Brendan Steele birdied the last three holes to post a 7-under-par 65 and claimed his second PGA Tour victory by one stroke over Patton Kizzire in the season-opening Safeway Open on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.

Steele, who blew the 54-hole lead at Silverado last year and finished in a tie for 17th after a 76, made birdie putts of three feet, 18 feet and seven feet down the stretch to finish at 18-under and won for the first time since the 2011 Valero Texas Open.

“It’s not often you get to come back to the same place and redeem yourself,” said Steele, from Idyllwild in the Southern California mountains and UC Riverside. “This one was amazing, to win in my home state, and I’m going back to the Masters. It was nice to be able to close it out.

“I knew where I stood (on the final holes) and it came down to the putter. This was my first one with the short putter, which is big, because the transition (from the long wand) was not easy.”

Kizzire, who held a one-stroke lead after the third round finished on Sunday morning in the rain-plagued tournament, closed with a 70 and missed a chance to force a playoff on the final hole when his chip shot stopped 12 inches from the cup.

Paul Casey of England finished in the top five for the fourth consecutive event, shot 69 and finished two shots back in a tie for third with Michael Kim of San Diego and Cal, who totaled 67, and Scott Piercy and Johnson Wagner, who both had 70s.

Kevin Na of Diamond Bar was three strokes down in seventh after a 66, while Phil Mickelson carded a 67 to wind up another shot behind in a tie for eighth with Justin Thomas, who also had a 67, Cody Gribble, who shot 68, and Martin Laird of Scotland, who came in at 70.

Defending champion Emiliano Grillo of Argentina closed with a 69 to tie for 26th.

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