(Reuters) – Brendan Steele rallied in windy conditions to successfully defend his title at the Safeway Open in California on Sunday and become the tournament’s first repeat winner.
Steele, who began the day two strokes back, shot a three-under 69 in the final round to reach 15-under and claim a two-stroke victory over fellow American Tony Finau in the PGA Tour’s season-opener.
“(There) was a brutal wind today,” Steele told reporters after sealing the win with birdies on the 16th and 18th holes.
“Lots of holes into the wind, lots of uncomfortable shots.”
Overnight leader Tyler Duncan, playing in just his second PGA Tour tournament, faded with bogeys on his first three holes and finished four back at 11-under after a 75.
Finau eagled the par-five fifth but ultimately faded with a double bogey on the 14th.
A birdie on the final hole secured him outright second.
Phil Mickelson shot a 70 to finish in a tie for third with Chesson Hadley at 12-under.
“I had a good time today,” Mickelson said. “It was fun to be in the mix, it was fun to have a chance.
“It was very difficult conditions. I enjoy that challenge. This course played totally different with the firm greens and the wind and some of the high pin placements were tough to get to.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom