Saturday's roundup: Steele hangs on to Frys.com Open lead
Napa, Calif. — Brendan Steele did just enough to keep the lead Saturday in the Frys.com Open.
He just missed a chance to do a lot more.
As one player after another was piling up birdies on the closing three-hole stretch at Silverado — eagle opportunities on each hole — Steele had to settle for three pars for a 3-under 69 and a one-shot lead over Andrew Loupe and Kevin Na.
Loupe had five straight birdies early in his round and four straight birdies late for a 63. Na played the closing stretch with an eagle and a birdie for a 64.
The PGA Tour season opener was wide open going into the final round with 16 players separated by only four shots.
Steele was at 14-under 202 as he tried to go wire-to-wire and pick up his second PGA Tour victory.
He could have made it easier on himself over the closing holes. Steele couldn’t get up-and-down from a bunker on the par-5 16th. His tee shot was slightly pulled and bounced out of a tree back to the fairway and short of the green on the 296-yard 17th hole, and he could get no closer than 20 feet with a wedge on the par-5 18th.
“It’s frustrating, because I thought I hit some good shots and good putts,” Steele said. “It happens.”
A pair of PGA Tour rookies were among the eight players two shots behind at 12-under 204. Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, coming off a win in the Web.com Tour Championship two weeks ago, went eagle-birdie-par for a 65. Harold Varner III played that stretch in 1 over, having to scramble for a par on the 17th and missing the 18th green long with a wedge to make bogey. He shot 69.
Grillo drove near the 17th green and nearly took out Rory McIlroy, who was still playing the hole. Grillo was under the impression the group had left.
And if he had hit the four-time major champion?
“Would have put me out of my misery,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy opened with two quick birdies, though frustration set in quickly and he whacked the flagstick with the end of his putter after missing a par putt on No. 4. He finished with a 71 and was eight shots behind in a tie for 39th.
Steele felt like Saturday would be a grind the way the opening two rounds went, especially with sunshine making Silverado feel more crusty and firm in the afternoon. With some cloud cover, a little moisture on the course and the two-tee start with an 81-man field, there were plenty of low scores available.
“I played better than I score,” Steele said. “That was a great round that Andrew shot. I didn’t see it, actually. The way it firmed up at the end yesterday and how firm it was today, you really had to be on your game in order to do that. I guess you never underestimate the talent level out here.”
Lydia Ko and Sung Hyun Park rebounded to top the crowded leaderboard in the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.
In position to take the top spot in the world, the second-ranked Ko overcame a double bogey with two late birdies in a 3-under 69. Park bounced back from a second-round 74 with a 67 to match Ko at 13 under 203 on Sky 72’s Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea.
Ko made the double bogey on the par-4 14th, driving left into the water and missing a 4-foot putt. The 18-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander rallied, driving the short par-4 15th to set up a two-putt birdie and making a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.
Park birdied three of the last four holes, also driving the 15th, holing a 20-footer on 17 and chipping to 2 feet on the par-5 18th. Making her first career LPGA Tour start, the 22-year-old South Korean player opened with a course-record 62. She would earn an LPGA Tour card with a victory.
American Lexi Thompson and South Korea’s Mirim Lee each birdied the 18th to pull within a stroke of the lead. Thompson had a 69, and Lee shot 67.
Defending champion Michael Allen shot a 3-under 69 for a share of the lead with Scott McCarron in the San Antonio Championship.
McCarron also had a 69 to reach 6-under 138 on TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Canyons Course.
The 56-year-old Allen has seven victories on the 50-and-over tour after failing to win on the PGA Tour. The 50-year-old McCarron is making his seventh start in his first season on the Champions Tour. He won three times on the PGA Tour.
Fred Couples was a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer, Scott Dunlap and first-round leader Wes Short Jr. Couples shot 69, Langer 68, Dunlap 71 and Short 72. Couples won the 2011 event, shooting 62-62-66 for a seven-stroke victory.
American Matt Kuchar shot a 3-under 69 to maintain a two-stroke lead in the wind-swept Fiji International.
Kuchar had a 1-under 215 total at Natadolo Bay in the event sanctioned by the OneAsia and Australasian tours. Australia’s Aron Price was second after a 69. Fiji’s Vijay Singh was nine shots back after a 71.
England’s Andy Sullivan shot a 4-under 67 in windy conditions to take a five-shot lead in the Portugal Masters.
Sullivan, the South African Open winner this year, had an 18-under 195 total at Oceanico Victoria. He opened with consecutive 64s. Spain’s Eduardo de la Riva was second after a 68.
Australia’s Scott Hend had two eagles in a 7-under 64 to take a three-stroke lead over defending champion Anirban Lahiri of India in the Macao Open.
Hend, the 2013 winner, had a 15-under 198 total in the Asian Tour event. Lahiri, coming off his first Presidents Cup appearance, shot a 68.