(Reuters) - Brendan Steele began his title defense of the Safeway Open in ideal position as he grabbed a share of the first-round lead with a seven-under-par 65 on Thursday in Napa, California in the opening tournament of the 2017-18 season. Steele won the title last year with a one-stroke triumph and his return was spurred by an eagle at the par-five fifth hole in a round where he made just one bogey.
“A little bit of everything worked for me today,” Steele told reporters. “I had a really good ball-striking day. I don’t think I missed a green, so that really helps.
“And then I had a good putting day as well, so you put that together and it’s going to be pretty good.”
Tom Hoge and Tyler Duncan also shot seven-under 65s to create a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa.
Hoge, who made six birdies during an eight-hole stretch, recently earned his PGA Tour playing privileges by climbing into the top 25 of the Web.com Tour at that circuit’s season finale.
“I played really well the whole day,” Hoge told the Napa Valley Register. “I was in a lot of the fairways, a lot of greens and then made a few putts. I just took advantage of some opportunities.”
Four players are at five-under including Lucas Glover and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo.
Zach Johnson, Kevin Tway, Ryan Moore and Maverick McNealy share eighth place at four-under-par-68.
Phil Mickelson shot a 69 and is one of 12 players tied for 12th.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury