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August 13, 2011

Brendan Steele


KELLY ELBIN: Playing in his first major championship, Brendan Steele joining us, in with a 66 in the third round of the 93rd PGA Championship. Brendan is at 7-under par, currently tied with Jason Dufner, who is on the final hole. Brendan, nice round. Comments on your play today and being in position to go after your first major championship in your first try.
BRENDAN STEELE: Thanks, Kelly. It's really exciting for me. I mean, it's just a great week for me just to be in the field. So to have a chance to actually win in my first major is really something special, and it was nice to play well today and roll some putts in and put myself in a good position.
KELLY ELBIN: If you would, quick recap. You had seven birdies, a bogey and a double bogey. If you could go through the clubs hit there and the length of the putts, please.
BRENDAN STEELE: Sure. Let's see, hit driver, 9-iron into No. 2 about 14 feet and made birdie there.
Went for the green in two on 5 into the bunker, hit it out to about six feet and made birdie there.
Hit it about five feet on 6 with a pitching wedge and made birdie there.
And then -- you want the double, too?
KELLY ELBIN: Unfortunately, yes.
BRENDAN STEELE: Hit 8-iron left on 7. 7 has been giving me trouble. Tried to putt it up the hill and it came back down to my feet and putted it back up and missed about a ten-footer for bogey there. That's been kind of my nemesis hole this week. Even the time I made par I had like 85 feet for birdie, so that wasn't very good.
Came back on 8 and hit 7-iron into -- 3-wood, 7-iron into 8 about probably 22 feet, something like that, made that one.
Went to 10, hit it in the left fringe with 9-iron and made about an 18-footer there.
And then 12, hit it on the green in two and had a long putt but almost made it for eagle, so I had a tap-in birdie there. Hit 6-iron onto the green in two.
And then 14, 3-wood, 7-iron past the hole about 18 feet and made that one.
And then 18, hit it in the fairway bunker and laid up and had about 97 yards to the hole and didn't make the 22-footer.

Q. I think last week you Tweeted, if golf is going to be like this, I'm never going to play again, after one of your rounds at Bridgestone. So a week later you're sitting here tied for the lead at the PGA. What happens in golf in a week?
BRENDAN STEELE: Well, that's how fickle this game is. I've been kind of struggling with my ball-striking, which is always the best part of my game, for the last couple weeks, didn't hit it well in Canada, then had an off week and came to Firestone and was just hitting it terribly, the worst I've hit it in recent memory, and it kind of carried over into the start of this week, thought I found something, then it would be fleeting. It would kind of go back and forth. Talking to my coach on the phone, just trying to kind of figure it out. His help has always been there for me. And then I played nine holes with Scott Piercy this week, who I've known from my Nationwide days back in 2008, and he knows my swing pretty well, and we talked about it when we were playing, and I went and hit a few balls after we played the nine, and it started clicking on Thursday a little bit. I hit it really good yesterday, and then still pretty good today. So hopefully it hangs on for another day, at least.

Q. Just to follow up, one of the things that we've grown accustomed to over the years is you see the big names always at the top of the leaderboard at majors. There's a lot of guys that nobody knows right now at the top of the leaderboard, or the greater public. What do you say to them when you say who are these guys? What does it mean about where golf is?
BRENDAN STEELE: It just shows how deep the PGA TOUR is and the European Tour and the Tours across the world because this is really kind of a world type championship. Guys get in from all over the place, so you get the best of the best. I can speak for myself and for Keegan; Keegan is a good friend of mine and he's an amazing player. He's got a great game. If you went and watched him play, you would instantly think that he's going to be a superstar. He hits it long, he hits it straight, he chips it and putts it really well.
I don't know Jason very well, but from what I've seen, I know he had a good finish at Phoenix this year I think he played really well, had a chance to win, and another really solid player.
But I think it just shows the depth and how good guys are these days. You've got younger guys and older guys and guys in the middle and everybody is playing at a high level.

Q. Sleeping on the lead in a major championship has got to be new for you but everything this week has been new for you. I'm wondering if you're going to feel going into tomorrow that you have more pressure or less pressure given the fact that you're not alone in that, there's a lot of guys in the top 10 who have never been in this position before?
BRENDAN STEELE: Sure. Everything has been new this week. I've been very excited just to be here, as I said, and you know, this is great for me. I picked up a win in San Antonio this year, and that kind of blue my mind and put me in a comfort zone out here a little more. Probably will be different for a major championship, but it's still golf, in the end, and if I play well, then I expect to have a good day, and if it's enough to win, then that'll be fantastic.

Q. Pressure given the fact that the other guys haven't been here, either?
BRENDAN STEELE: No, not -- doesn't help or hurt I don't think. You know, if Keegan or Jason or anybody else is close, I haven't paid too close attention to the leaderboard. But if they go out and shoot a round like I did today, they're going to be tough to beat. I can't control what other guys do, but if I go and play solid, then I think I'll have a good chance.

Q. Someone is going to step to the 15th tee tomorrow with the lead in this tournament. What would you expect those last four holes to be like with the lead trying to protect it? How difficult would that be?
BRENDAN STEELE: It's going to be tough. You're really going to need to commit to the shots that you're hitting. Any sort of wishy-washy type play there is not going to get it done. There's obviously a lot of water in play. 16 is the only one without water, and that's a very tough par-4. If you're trying to be too safe you're going to be in trouble, but if you're being too aggressive you're going to be in trouble, so you've got to kind that conservative target, aggressive swing and hope all the work you've done will hold up and pay off.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Brendan has played the last four holes in just 1-over par with the bogey at 18 today being the only blemish.

Q. When did you got to the long putter and why and do you realize you'd be the first one to win a major with it?
BRENDAN STEELE: Well, I went to the long putter in 2006 actually played the Canadian Tour, so I've been doing it for a while. I just went to it because I wasn't holing enough putts, kind of mid range putts, and it helped me start the ball on line more consistently. I don't feel like I get quite as hot as I would with the short putter but I don't get quite as cold, either, so it makes it a little bit easier for me.

Q. You saw the course for the first time on Monday?

Q. Can you talk about the process of trying to learn a course in three days?
BRENDAN STEELE: Yeah, I can pick up a course fairly quickly as far as the lines go off the tee and stuff. That's normally the easiest part for me, especially here being a California guy, it's tough for me, the grass, the Bermuda, to chip out of. I can play some shots out of the rough, second shots into par-4s and things, but the chipping is really difficult and then to try to figure out the greens has really been a struggle for me. So I just kind of got better today and holed a lot more putts today than I did the last couple days.

Q. Little change of pace here: I've heard the story about how you grew up in Idyllwild, no golf course there, the nearest was about 30 miles away. Why did you get into golf, and was it hard to start getting into the game and learning the game, and was there a lot of travel, and did your parents have to bring you places? What was it like?
BRENDAN STEELE: I've got a brother that's 14 years older than me, and anything that he's always -- anything that he's ever done, I've always wanted to do. So he was playing golf all the time, and when I was -- I was about 12, 13, I was playing a lot of baseball and soccer and I didn't really play any golf. I always liked to play a little bit but I played a couple rounds a year. I went to watch him play the club championship at Newport Beach Country Club down in Orange County, and like I said, anything that he did I just always idolized. So I picked up the game, and anything that I wanted to do, my dad was gung ho about, so he'd take me anywhere that I needed to go. He built a bunker and chipping green in the backyard, put in a little artificial grass in there. It's hard to keep it going at 5,600, but he'd work hard at it and gave me a mat and a net and did a bunch of work there and then I had to go to high school down in Hemet, so he'd drive me down and pick me up and drive me all around anywhere that I needed to go.

Q. When did you start to get good and competitive with the other kids your age?
BRENDAN STEELE: When I first started, I wasn't very good. It wasn't an instant thing for me. It's kind of been a slow, gradual process. But I took a big jump as a sophomore in high school, and then by the time I got to college, I got a scholarship to go to UC Riverside which I thought was fantastic, to go play Division 1 golf, and it's not the power house that everybody always thinks of but we got to play in a lot of good tournaments there, so I really developed there and then came out and played in Canada for a couple years and played pretty solid and finally got through to Nationwide in 2008 and just kind of kept building on all the things that I learned and just trying to be smart and pick things up. I was fortunate enough to win the Tour Championship last year on the Nationwide Tour, and it's been kind of a wild ride since then.

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