Nerves of Steele earn rookie victory at Texas Open

A 27-year old lad from Idyllwild, California held off the field and tackled a difficult golf course to win his first ever PGA Tour rookie campaign.

Brendan Steele closed the Nationwide Tour with a 1-under 71 and an invitation to the 2012 Masters. He also earned 500 FedEx Cup points and $1.116 million in the process.

With two birdies and a bogey through the tough AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio, Steele finished a stroke ahead of Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman with an 8-under 280.

“I didn’t expect to win this fast,” he said later. “I thought I had the game to win. I thought I proved it to myself after the Nationwide Tour Championship last year.

“But, you know, it’s such an elusive thing because you can play – I can play just as well as I played today and the whole week and somebody could shoot a better score than me. It’s not like I’m playing another team or anything like that.”

Until this season, Steele has not played a single round at the PGA Tour. However, he had a one-shot lead at the start of the day.

“I don’t even really know what happened,” said Steele, a winner in his 12th PGA Tour start. “Kevin and I were kind of battling it out there the last few holes, then he made the mistake on 17 and I made a mistake on 18 but I was able to sneak in the putt for par. “So I’m not even sure what is going on right now, I’m just trying to capture it all in my mind.”

“I’ll be honest, I think I just fell asleep,” said Chappell about his only bogey. “I felt the wind was dead into me and I kind of hit left centre of the fairway.

“I should have known it was a little left to right and I actually felt like I struck the ball the way I wanted to. “When I found the ball in flight, it was right of the hole and like whoa, what just happened? “I hit a good pitch from where I was and actually feel like I hit a good putt to hit it a little hard. “I hit it where I was aiming.”