Steele hardens himself to defend PGA golf title

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Báo Dân Trí English - 32 month(s) ago 3 readings

Steele hardens himself to defend PGA golf title

Brendan Steele has recaptured the same focus that made him a winner last year in his rookie season on the US PGA Tour just in time to defend his crown starting Thursday at the Texas Open.

The 29-year-old American enjoyed eight top-25 finishes last year in his first PGA campaign but has struggled this season.

Steele, ranked 127th in the world, shared fifth at Phoenix in February but has missed the cut in five of his past nine starts and finished outside the top 65 three other times. Part of the reason is coping with his unexpected triumph.

"You have to work on expectations and really understand what you're trying to do," Steele said.

"Winning in my rookie year was something that I never even dreamed that I would be able to do so it's a little bit hard almost to keep yourself, not motivated, but kind of a 'Where do we go from here?'-type thing.

"I've been trying to fight through that and haven't had a lot of success over the last few weeks but I've learned a lot over the last few weeks. I don't think there's a lot wrong with my game. My approach has been a little bit off. I'm just trying to make that transition, start moving in the right direction."

The par-72 TPC at San Antonio offers one of the tour's tougher tests with a 7,522-yard layout and lightning-quick greens. But it also offers Steele a boost in confident after knowing he can win over the challenging course.

"It's an awesome feeling to come back to this course where I have so many good memories," Steele said. "It's always going to have a special place in my heart."

Steele has learned how to adjust his game better than when he was just off the developmental tour and worried that any flaw might spell the end of his PGA dreams.

"You have a tendency to get out here and think you have to be perfect and you can't make a mistake and you need to change your game. It's really not the case," Steele said.

"You need to just be focused and do the right things and have the right mental attitude. Earlier this year I had gotten into a couple bad kind of swing habits and things which I think I've broken now."

Steele will be paired in the first two rounds with compatriots Kevin Na, who shared eighth last week at the Heritage, and US rookie Bud Cauley, with three top-20 efforts in his past four starts.

Among the favorites this week is American Johnson Wagner, ranked 54th in the world and eighth on the US money list. Wagner won the first full-field US PGA event of the season back in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Since then, Wagner shared second at Pebble Beach and fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Wagner will be joined on Thursday and Friday by South Korean K.J. Choi, an eight-time PGA Tour winner who missed his lone cut of the year at the Masters, and Matt Kuchar, the American who shared third at the Masters for his fourth top-10 finish in a row.

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