Brendan Steele knows all about a fast start to the season. What he’d like to avoid is the slow finish.
Steele won the Safeway Open a year ago, and he felt he was on his way. He made the cut in his next 16 tournaments. He had three top 10s, including a tie for sixth in The Players Championship. He made the cut in both majors he played during that stretch.
He was 13th in the FedEx Cup, and the Tour Championship looked like a sure thing. And then it wasn’t.
“I really felt like at the end of the season through the summer, I definitely limited myself as to what I was trying to achieve,” Steele said. “I just wanted to make the Tour Championship so bad, I was just trying to scratch and claw for every point I could. There was never going to be a week where I had a chance to win playing like that because you play to the level you’re thinking.
“If you’re trying to make the cut, you’ll be right around the cut line,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to win. I wasn’t trying to play my best. I was just trying to get whatever points I could and I played right to that level.”
He made only three cuts in his last seven events, and two of those tournaments didn’t even have cuts.
Steele was at No. 27 going into the BMW Championship, closed with a 72-72 weekend and missed the top 30 â and the Tour Championship â by two shots. Since the wraparound season began in October 2013, Steele became the first player to win the season-opening event and not make it to East Lake.
He hopes he at least learned from last year.
“I just started playing a little more cautiously and a little bit more afraid,” he said. “I don’t know if I got a little bit more tired or what happened, but I was just worried about the outcome and not the process of actually…