After a blink-of-an-eye offseason, the 2017-18 PGA Tour campaign kicked off in California wine country last week. And it began in much the same way last season did, with Brendan Steele winning.
The 34-year-old Californian, who has upped his game thanks in part to statistical analysis from a rock ’n’ roll bassist, successfully defended his Safeway Open crown at Johnny Miller’s Silverado Resort.
Although the field was light on big names, the tournament boasted the presence of Phil Mickelson, who made a run at the title before a late bogey derailed his bid, and John Daly, who sang backup on a Tom Petty cover to honor the late rocker during a concert following the first round. (Daly, 51, also birdied the last hole Friday to make the cut on the number.)
Like Steele, Tyrrell Hatton mounted a successful title defense, his at the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. With a closing 66 on the Old Course at St. Andrews, the 25-year-old Englishman held off countryman Ross Fisher, whose 11-under-par 61 in the last round broke the Old Course record.
In France, Cristie Kerr spent an LPGA off week assaulting par at the Lacoste Ladies Open. The 39-year-old Floridian led by no less than nine strokes after holing a wedge for eagle to close the third round and hung on to win the Ladies European Tour event by four.
And on social media, Tiger Woods furnished evidence of progress in his recovery from spinal-fusion surgery: a video in which he takes a full swing and hits one of what we can only presume were multiple “smooth iron shots,” as his accompanying comment states.