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April 17, 2011

Brendan Steele


DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'd like to welcome the 2011 Valero Texas Open Champion, Brendan Steele. That's got to sound, have a good ring to it. What a great week. You were with some guys that were all primed for their first PGA TOUR win so I know it's great to get that first PGA TOUR win under your belt and, you know, what a fantastic place here to get it. Just a few opening comments about the week and then we'll take a few questions.
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, really a fantastic week. The golf course was amazing. The resort was amazing. The sponsor, Valero, all the other sponsors, can't say enough about the staff at the resort and the golf course and for me, it will always hold a special place in my heart, my first PGA TOUR victory. It really hasn't sunk in yet but I'm sure when it does, it will feel pretty good.
DOUG MILNE: Talk a little bit just about your game for the week and what maybe a key or two that, you know, really helped you because it really did come down to the wire to where -- to literally to the 72nd hole to where it could have lead to a playoff. What went right in your mind? Obviously you had to battle with the wind and so forth.
BRENDAN STEELE: Sure. It was a tough week all around. It's a really tough golf course. When the wind gets blowing it makes it even that much more difficult.
I had a really good attitude this week. Been playing pretty well the last few weeks but I haven't been getting that much out of it. It's really because my attitude wasn't right.
I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and make it a little bit too tough so we decided on this trip that we were just going to try to hit every shot as good as we could and not care about the outcome and, you know, just move forward if something bad happens, because that's usually in every round of golf, you're going to have something not go the way you wanted it to.
DOUG MILNE: With that we'll take a few questions.

Q. Can you put into words how you're feeling right now? Has it really sunk in? What does this mean?
BRENDAN STEELE: You know, I'm very tired and I'm very shaky right now. It really hasn't sunk in. Sitting next to this guy will make anybody nervous. I don't even know what's going on right now. I'm on Cloud 9. It's amazing.

Q. How comfortable was it in that final grouping today? I know you knew those two guys, Californians. Was it as relaxed as it could be in that setting?
BRENDAN STEELE: I think definitely. I was pretty relaxed until the 18th fairway and I know those guys pretty well, played with Kevin all the way back, 2008 Nationwide, and I played a lot with Cam this year in practice rounds and gotten paired together a lot and, you know, we're friends and it was as easy as it could be for us, as comfortable as it could be.
We're all kind of going through the same thing, being in the same category and looking for the first win and so everybody is kind of even playing field back there.

Q. You talked yesterday about the Nationwide Tour Championship experience and how that was going to help you. How did it compare?
BRENDAN STEELE: You know, I was a lot more calm today because going into Sunday at the Tour Championship I had a five shot lead and you don't want to be known as the guy that blew the five shot lead.
When you got the one shot lead it's not even your tournament, you know, there's so many guys that could still win the golf tournament with a good round without even doing anything wrong that I didn't feel as much pressure today. When I got to the 18th fairway, I knew it was mine to win there so then that's when I started to feel a little shaky.

Q. Talk a little bit, was it almost an experience about who was going to blink first there in the last couple of three holes and finally Kevin did on the 17th?
BRENDAN STEELE: I actually thought it was going to take 9-under. I figured when we were on 16 tee I thought if you make one birdie coming in you're probably in good shape.
And Kevin had played so solid all day, you know, I think that was his only bogey on 17 and made a few birdies. When he got it in trouble he got it up and down. Hit a lot of good putts.
You know, I think it was pretty impressive to watch three rookies in the last group play that well. I think it was something really, really cool.

Q. Along those lines, you said yesterday, you talked about the household name factor that you guys are very talented, people don't know you yet.
Can you expand on that, just your thoughts about the young guns out there and now you being one, winning a championship?
BRENDAN STEELE: Sure. You know, those guys are even a lot younger than I am, but I think Cam is only 23 or 24 and I think Kevin is 25 or something and you know, the guys just have so much talent these days and, you know, when Cam got straight out here right out of college. Somebody to be able to do that, you know he's got a lot of game.
The guys are household names now, they weren't at one point. You know, that was kind of my point, is that you didn't know who they were when they first came out and got their first win, a lot of the time.
Some of them are U.S. Am Champions or other things like that where you knew their names. You kind make yourself into a household name and you got to start somewhere.

Q. Talk about 18. You knew that Kevin had to lay up because he was out of rough. You're standing in there looking at yardage. Tell me what you're thinking about out there.
BRENDAN STEELE: We had a pretty good yardage I think for a hybrid. Under that circumstance, I really didn't know and, you know, we had I think about 250 to the middle of the green which was really what we were trying to do, and I think with the wind I probably could have hit that shot, that would have been good.
I think we go out there right now I can hit it in the middle of the green. Under that circumstance right then I thought with Kevin laying it up into the rough, that if I were to hit in the water or something stupid that would be an even bigger mistake than hitting it up there and having a wedge and being able to hit it close.
I didn't count I was going to juice my wedge over the green and kind of get it up there and ride the wind. I think that was a pretty good decision for us.

Q. Was it at that point that the nerves kicked in a little bit? Was that the most nervous you felt throughout the day or not?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, it definitely was, in the fairway. I felt good on the tee box and just let one rip on the line that we've been taking all week and hit a really perfect tee shot and talking about hybrid and I told Nick that it just -- I felt a little too nervous to hit the hybrid. I didn't like it. So we decided just to hit 9-iron and leave it up to a 62-degree wedge.

Q. But overall, your nerves were pretty good today?
BRENDAN STEELE: I was really calm today until we got to 18 fairway.

Q. And winning the Nationwide last year, the Tour Championship that really helped you?
BRENDAN STEELE: I definitely think it helped me. Just the right mindset, really trying to stay away from the outcome on each shot and for the day. That's what I tried to do all week.
And so if you tell yourself that it really, you know -- it's okay if you don't hit a great shot, let's try to line it up where we want it and let it rip and see what happens. That's the kind of approach that we were taking rather than being worried about, okay, well, this is not good and that's not good. We got to keep it out of here. Hit a solid shot on line and let the chips fall where they may.

Q. From your last tournament to this tournament, what do you think was the main or the most important key to make you perform the way you did today? I don't know if you did something different, do you have special diet, special training aid, do you talk to a coach?
What do you think is the most important, crucial key thought that helped play the way you played today because you played like steel, you know?
BRENDAN STEELE: It was all attitude. I played 11 out of the first 12 weeks and I was able to take last week off, unfortunately, I would have liked to have been at the Masters.
I went home and just kind of regrouped. Didn't practice very much. Saw my coach, Jim "Fallingstat" a little bit and hit a few balls. Mostly talked about what I had been through the first 11 events.

Q. With him.
BRENDAN STEELE: With him. Kind of about how I felt and what I was doing to myself and had a long talk with Nick about, you know, kind of what he had seen and what he thought was the biggest problem and we decided that I was getting too down on myself when I hit a bad shot, putting too much pressure on myself. Our vision was too wide.
I was looking at the trouble off the tees and stuff rather than what line are we going to hit it on and just let it go.

Q. Now that you won your first event, what are you going to do, are you going back to your coach again, are you going to try to keep the same way, method of preparing yourself for the next tournament or you going to bring your coach to the events like Tiger does, his coach?
Are you going to make something different or going to try to keep the same way you did this week?
BRENDAN STEELE: I'm not going to do anything different. I see my coach when I'm home, probably three times a week. But he travels every now and then to some of the Southern California events but we don't work on a ton of stuff. We don't work on a lot of mechanics and things.
He tells me if he sees anything that's wrong or different. I've been with him since I was 13. He knows my game pretty well. We've kind of advanced together and he understands what it takes for me to play well and, like I said, we don't get into too many mechanical issues or anything so we're not the guys that -- he's never once put me on camera, let's say.
So, he just does it. He's old school, does it by his eyes and tells me what's going on and we talk about the whole process of the game, about how to score and just being in the right mindset and everything that goes into playing the game.

Q. Brendan, do you have your boots on?
BRENDAN STEELE: I just took them off (laughter).

Q. Have you ever had a pair of cowboy boots?
BRENDAN STEELE: Never have. Those are my first.
DOUG MILNE: Have you had a chance -- probably not -- since you came straight from here to there to realize what the impact of the win here, especially with the Valero Texas Open being in the regular season, you're in Hawaii, you're in a number of invitational events so far?
Is that something that will take sometime to ingest?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yes, definitely. I have no idea what I get into. I just know that my world ranking probably went up a little bit and probably get a few more events.

Q. Doug wants to know if you rented a house yet at Augusta.
DOUG MILNE: I need a place to stay next year "laughter". Obviously also puts you right in the thick of it on the FedExCup race. I don't know if that was something you were looking at.
BRENDAN STEELE: Sure. If you let yourself -- I started thinking about some things last night in bed and it's not really the right thing to be doing about FedExCup and, you know, events that you're going to get into and having a two year exemption and all the things, and you just have to push it out of your head, starting the year in Hawaii, all the good things that come with being a champion on the PGA TOUR.
If you start letting that stuff creep in, it's real hard to get your business taken care ever.
DOUG MILNE: How successful were you at doing that?
BRENDAN STEELE: Pretty successful. I felt really good about what I was doing out there. I'm really proud of myself just for my attitude and how I handled myself, even more so than my game this week.
Q. How did the course play for you today versus other days?
BRENDAN STEELE: Pretty tough. Pretty much. Like Friday, although it blew a different direction, some of the holes were -- were a little bit easier that were harder on Friday but it blew so hard today that when we got to the downwind holes like on 8 and 9, say, those holes were playing just as hard as into the wind holes because you couldn't stop the ball, you didn't know how far the ball was going to go.
8 was just brutal with the back flag because it just runs all the way down into the collection area. If you hit it three yards too far and you can't spin it if you hit it up there. So, I mean, there were a lot of problems created by the wind today.

Q. Was it 2 you came out of the bunker and had the long putt for birdie?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah. I was pretty even happy for myself for laying it up into the bunker and we only had about 115 yards to the hole and I hit an 8-iron so that shows you how much the wind was blowing. I normally hit 8-iron 160, 165.
We hit a little controlled 8-iron to probably about 12 feet and rolled that one in. That kind of got us going in the right direction. It was much needed and there aren't many birdies to be had out there.

Q. On the back-9, were you reining it in a little bit to kind of not doing anything, you know, to lose it?
BRENDAN STEELE: Not really. I was trying to make birdies, I was trying to do the same thing I was doing the whole week, which was just execute every shot and, you know, there's just a lot of tough holes.
You get a little bit tighter coming in and I had a few chances. I left a few putts short when I thought I hit pretty good putts but, you know, a couple of them were downhill and could really get away from me.
I didn't want three, four feet coming back on every hole. The one on 17 made me kind of mad but I left that one short because that was one back up the hill. You know, overall I'm pretty happy.

Q. The last putt, go through the emotions. You did a little double fist pump, looked like. Probably the most emotion we've seen out of you the whole tournament.
BRENDAN STEELE: I try to keep it pretty much under control. Just an outrush of emotion there. I couldn't believe that I had actually done it. It was one of those kind of things.
You thought about it as a kid and in high school and everything, this putt is to win a PGA TOUR event, this putt is whatever, and you actually have a putt to do that and you actually make it.
I mean there's so many times in this game when you don't do what you want or you don't make the putt that you need or you don't hit the shot that you need to hit. It's really something when you pull it off.
DOUG MILNE: Couple more real quick.

Q. I think so it was 17 the par 3, I notice that because of the wind, I see you guys teed the ball a little bit lower, correct?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yes. I usually tee the ball down pretty far anyway. I don't tee it up very high and I think that goes back to as a kid I hit a big hook so the lower I teed it the less it would hook.
I kind of just left it that way but I tee it -- definitely tee it a little bit lower in the wind.

Q. Did you ever expect to win this quickly?
BRENDAN STEELE: I didn't expect to win this fast. I thought I had the game to win. I thought I proved it to myself after the Nationwide Tour Championship last year.
But, you know, it's such an elusive thing because you can play -- I can play just as well as I played today and the whole week and somebody could shoot a better score than me. It's not like I'm playing another team or anything like that.
So, just -- it only takes one guy to push you down that one spot.
So, you know, I guess to answer your question, I didn't see it coming this fast but I thought that I did have the game for it.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Last thing, string of pars on the back-9. If you wouldn't mind just running us through 2, 5 and 7, your two birdies and bogey. Give us some yards and clubs.
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah. On 2, I hit a good tee shot. It was playing into the wind and we decided to hit a hybrid to lay it up and it felt kind of like it might be a little -- lot of club to me.
I kind of bailed out on it, didn't have a very good shot. Hit it in the bunker. Then hit an 8-iron out from there to 12 feet and made that.
On 5, is a driveable hole will. I drove it on the back of the green yesterday with less wind so we pulled the 3-wood out there today and I kind of flipped one down into the junk on the left.
So that wasn't very good. Then I hit it over the green and just kind of made a mess of it.
And on 7, I hit a really nice shot into 7. The flag was in the front. I hit a 7-iron and right to left wind, kind of suited my eye and hit it in the back tier and rolled back down to about three feet.

Q. You got it up and down on 11 too, didn't you?
BRENDAN STEELE: Had a really good up and down on 11. I worked a lot with the Titleist guys on fitting all my stuff, all my clubs, driver, 3-wood, hybrid, everything and that's really helped me out a lot this week.
On that particular one, it was a wedge that Bob Vokey actually worked on for me at Bay Hill a couple weeks ago, kind of fixed the grind on it for me and those guys did so much work to kind of fit my bag in perfectly for the week.

Q. You missed the green right there?
BRENDAN STEELE: I missed the green right there and I used the wedge that Vokey made up for me and I just kind of flipped it out of there, hit a really good shot about six feet, made that putt.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Brendan, 2011 Valero Texas Open Championship.

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