Home Other Sports News Brendan Steele Takes The Lead In The Sony Open

Brendan Steele Takes The Lead In The Sony Open

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Photo Credit:Marco Garcia/AP

Honolulu, HI — Brendan Steele must have muscle memory from last year. Steele lost a late lead at Waialae and lost in a playoff. He doesn’t want to repeat history.

With the overnight rain at Waialae Country Club, coupled with the tropical wind, Steele maintained his pinpoint focus and accuracy on Saturday.

Steele attacked the course with vengeance and delivered the lowest score of his career Saturday with a 9-under 61 that gave him a two-shot lead going into the final round.

“You hope that you come back and you play well and erase whatever negative memories there are,” Steele said. “But all the memories are pretty positive. Playing great here last year was good, and I’m excited for the challenge tomorrow. I know it’s going to be really tough. Guys are coming after me. But I’ll just do my best and hopefully it will be enough.”

Kevin Na started the day five shots out of the lead and matched his career-low with a 61 score to join Joaquin Niemann at two strokes back.

Niemann, a runner-up last week at Kapalua, was outside the top 10 board leaders when he birdied the par-3 17th and then smoked a 7-wood that landed onto the green to 10 feet for eagle and a 63. In a blink, he was two shots behind.

There were 10 scores of 64 or better Saturday. The average score was 66.7, a record for the Sony Open.

Niemann was 4 under for his round and far from satisfied.

“I thought I could put myself in a better position, and then finishing that way and making eagle on 18 made me really happy and gave me a bit of motivation for tomorrow,” said Niemann, the 22-year-old from Chile.

Na was swinging the clubs well and thought about a 59 when he stood over a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th, knowing that would leave him an eagle away from golf’s magic number. Na had to settle for a 61, he knows to take it all; needs another stellar round of golf.

“The golf course is so gettable that somebody can go shoot 8 or 9 under,” Na said. “Yeah, I am in a good position but it’s what you shoot Sunday. I’m still going to need a low one tomorrow.”

Steele was at 18-under 192.

Stewart Cink birdied his final hole for a 65 and was three shots behind, along with Charley Hoffman (64), Peter Malnati (64), Chris Kirk (65), and Russell Henley (65).

Steele had a two-shot lead with two holes to play a year ago when he missed a 6-foot par putt on the 17th hole, he hooked a shot on his approach of a easy par-5 18th and had to settle for par, and then missed the 10th green with an 80-yard shot in the playoff against Cameron Smith.

Photo Credit:Marco Garcia/AP

“I was remembering some shots, some good and some bad, kind of kicking myself a little bit,” he said.

Steele said he typically plays well coming off a little break — five weeks, in this case — and the fact he has the 54-hole lead for the second straight year only tells him he can play well on this course in any weather. The wicked wind last year finally gave way to rain. This year, there has been plenty of rays and only moderate wind.

Keith Mitchell, who had a 62 on Friday, took the lead at one point in the third round and was 8 under through 15 holes on his round when his tee shot landed near a cement wall of a house and cost him a penalty drop. A rough finish gave Mitchell a 63.

Nick Taylor, who took a two-shot lead into the third round, was keeping up in the pack until a pair of bogeys on the back nine. He shot a 68 and was still only four back.

Such is the nature of this tournament in this kind of weather. It was wide open on Saturday, and it’s not likely to be any different in the final round.

Brendan Steele knows he can play well at the Sony Open whether it’s windy or calm, in sunshine or rain. Now he gets another chance to see if he can win.

“You hope that you come back and you play well and erase whatever negative memories there are,” Steele said. “But all the memories are pretty positive. Playing great here last year was good, and I’m excited for the challenge tomorrow. I know it’s going to be really tough. Guys are coming after me. But I’ll just do my best and hopefully it will be enough.”

Starting times have been moved up by two hours Sunday with hopes of finishing ahead of heavy rain in the forecast.