Every so often, a PGA Tour pro will have a round that defies even their own belief. The type of round in which every putt falls, every shot lands exactly as they’d wished, and even their bad shots wind up in half-decent shape.
Evidently, Brendan Steele had a reality-defying round on Sunday.
The 37-year-old PGA Tour pro finished the day at five under, launching himself into contention for a backdoor top-10 finish, just his second of the 2021 season. He recorded six birdies or better, including an eagle on the par-5 3rd hole, en route to his Sunday 65. Some of Steele’s other highlights for the day include holing out from the sand for birdie on the par-4 6th and surviving the vaunted Bear Trap at just one over.
Joaquin Niemann has not had the same sort of Sunday. The 22-year-old pro recorded four birdies and three bogeys en route to his even-par 70 finish, good enough for two under on the week and (as of 3:00 p.m. ET) a tie for 29th.
On the 11th hole, Niemann watched as Steele flubbed his chip from the greenside rough — one of his rare blunders for the day. Finally, it seemed, the PGA Tour vet was coming back to earth…for about 12 seconds.
Steele’s next chip, also from the greenside rough, initially looked like another mistake. It rocketed off the clubface and toward the hole on the fly. If his ball landed firm, he might have work to do to save double-bogey.
Instead, Brendan Steele’s ball landed in the hole. On the fly. A chip-in par.
As Steele gave a well-earned look what I found stare toward the hole, Niemann reached his wits end. He bent over in amazement toward his playing partner and flashed a smile.
The dunk-in would represent only one of 10 pars on the day for Steele, but for his playing partner, it was the encapsulation of the afternoon.
Sometimes, it’s just your playing partner’s day.