ALUMNI UPDATE – STEELE EARNS FIRST PGA TOUR WIN AT VALERO TEXAS OPEN

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By Ryan Woodcock

PGA TOUR rookie and former Gateway Pro Tour player Brendan Steele closed out his final round with 11 straight pars, and he held off charges from former GPT players Kevin Chappell, Charley Hoffman and Brandt Snedeker to earn his first career win on the PGA TOUR at the Valero Texas Open.

Steele lead by 1 shot going into the final round, and played steady throughout the day while holding the lead.  He birdied No. 2, gave one back with a bogey on No. 5, and added a birdie on seven to get to 8-under before running off his streak of 11 pars down the stretch.  The win came in only his 12th start on the PGA TOUR.

It was a crowded leaderboard for our former players, as Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman finished T2 at 7-under, one shot back of Steele, and Brandt Snedeker finished fourth at 6-under 282.  Chappell, another PGA TOUR rookie, earned his best finish on TOUR and earned $545,600 for his efforts, vaulting him from 188th to 53rd on the PGA TOUR money list.

For Hoffman, his T2 was his best finish on TOUR since winning the Deutsche Bank Championship on September 26, 2010, and was his first Top 10 this season.  He opened the Texas Open with a 68, stumbled a little with a 73-70 on Friday and Saturday, then closed out the final round with another solid 68 to finished tied with Chappell.  Snedeker finished solo fourth with his final-round 71, and earned his fourth Top-10 finish this year. 

For the week, a total of 21 former players made the Texas Open cut, with eight finishing in the Top-15.  Martin Laird continued his nice run this season, finishing ninth at 3-under par for his fifth Top-10 of the year, while J.B. Holmes finished right behind him at 2-under par for a T11.  Bobby Gates closed out the weekend 68-71 to finish T15 at 1-under par, along with Kevin Streelman, who earned his second Top-25 finish this year.

Steele and Hoffman were the big movers on the money list, with Steele jumping from 130th to 20th, while Hoffman vaulted 47 spots to 30th on the money list.  Martin Laird is the highest former GPT player currently on the PGA TOUR money list at 4th with $2.1 million in earnings, while Gary Woodland is right behind him in 6th with $2 million in earnings.  Rounding out the Top-25 on the money list are Bubba Watson (10th), Steve Marino (14th), Steele (20th) and Spencer Levin (22nd).  Brandt Snedeker jumped from 39th to 27th with his fourth place finish. 

CLICK HERE for complete results from the Valero Texas Open.

NATIONWIDE TOUR – FRESH EXPRESS CLASSIC

The Nationwide Tour got back to action after a two-week break with the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae, and a number of former GPT players had solid showings.  Luke List was the high finisher, shooting 11-under par 199 to finish T2 in this tournament that was shortened to 54-holes due to heavy fog in the final round.  That’s too bad for List – he was on a roll after shooting 6-under 64 in the third round on Saturday.  But heavy fog delayed the final round by four hours, and after play began later that afternoon, the fog rolled in again, canceling the last round and declaring Daniel Chopra the winner at 12-under 198, one shot ahead of List.

A total of 13 former players finished in the Top-25, with seven of those in the Top-15 and four in the Top-10.  Doug LaBelle shot 66-69-67 to finish T4 at 8-under par, while Matt Davidson and Brian Smock finished T9 at 6-under par.  Andrew Buckle, Rob Oppenheim and Roberto Castro all finished T14 at 5-under par, and six players finished T19 at 4-under 206. 

With four Nationwide events in the books, THE 25 is starting to take shape.  Currently seven former GPT players are inside the coveted Top-25 in money, starting with Matt Every, who sits in 7th.  List made a huge jump from 51st to 8th, while Andrew Buckle sits in 15th.  Rounding out theTop-25 include Rich Barcelo (17th), Steven Wheatcroft (18th), Doug LaBelle (20th) and Ron Whittaker (22nd). 

CLICK HERE for complete results from the Fresh Express Classic.

Another weekend of golf is in the books.  Next up for the boys on the PGA TOUR is a stop in Hilton Head for The Heritage, April 21-24.  The Nationwide Tour will take a week off before getting back to action in Valdosta, Georgia for the South Georgia Classic, April 28-May 1. 

Good luck everyone!