Dublin, OH — It only took the green on two at Muirfield Village Golf Club to know that this was going to be a good day for Brendan Steele.
Steele converted a 29 foot-10 inch putt for a birdie which kickstarted a 7-under par 65 which leaves his a shot behind Dustin Johnson for the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide lead.
“That kind of gives you a little bit of a kick start,” Steele said. “I knew that I was swinging really well. So if I start to see some putts go in, then I’m going to get really excited about it. Definitely seeing that go in on the 2nd hole made me think that maybe today was going to be pretty good.”
Steele’s round was going fairly smoothly until the 14th hole when he recorded a double bogey.
Instead of making getting down, Steele challenged himself to do better.
“Everybody wants to talk about like who’s got the best swing or who can make this putt or that putt or whatever. but it’s more about just being able to go, okay, I had a disaster, you know, something I’m not happy about,” said Steele. “I had a gap wedge from the fairway and made a 6, right? How can you respond and make a good swing on the next hole because you’re obviously swinging well, you’re playing well. Don’t let that define the day. Don’t let it define the week. Those are kind of the inner battles, and I think that’s why we love this game so much.”
The highlight of Steele’s round was not the birdie barrage he had on holes 4-7 but the eagle on 18 from the fairway, a 154 yard shot. The hole was the third toughest at Muirfield Village Thursday.
“It’s (the 18th hole) playing about as easy as it can right now, the weather is perfect,” he said. “The greens are a little bit soft after that rain, which helped. Hit a great drive. Had a nice number to control an 8 iron in there. I told Christian, my caddie, these are shots I normally aim too far away from the hole, that I get a little too cautious with. We picked a really aggressive line, made a great swing, and it paid off.”
Steele came in with much expectation because different facets of his game were at various points.
Now he enters second round play Friday a shot behind the lead.
“I kind of came here a little unsure of how my game was,” Steele said. “I’ve been swinging it pretty good, my short irons haven’t been great, my chipping’s been mediocre, and my putting hasn’t been great while I was home the last couple of weeks. I needed to clean up a lot of things and was able to do that fortunately.
“I tried to take a little different attitude into today than I’ve had. It becomes a little bit more like a job out here sometimes, which I didn’t want it to be. I want to have a little bit more fun. Even when I made double on 14, I was trying to think that this is what it’s all about. You just made a double, can you get in there and make a good swing and have a good finish still? That’s the thing I’m most pleased about.”