JOHNS CREEK, GA. - Brendan Steele is:
A) The name of a new CBS action-packed series about a master thief (Steele; steal, get it?)
B) An adult film star (Steele ... never mind.)
C) Leading the 93rd PGA Championship.
Steele, a Canadian Tour grad, is tied at the top with Jason Dufner at seven-under-par heading into Sunday’s final round of the season’s last major. While it would be easy to characterize this as a “who dat?” situation, that would be the wrong way to go.
Steele, 28, won the Valero Texas Open earlier this year and turned in a fine 66 Saturday for his share of the lead. He stood up nicely in his first major championship on a difficult golf course with a brutal closing stretch.
Dufner, who had a 68 Saturday, is 34 and winless on the PGA Tour (he lost in a playoff at Phoenix earlier this year), but he has a track record of using his steady if unspectacular game to play well on tough tracks. He finished tied for fifth in the PGA last year at Whistling Straits and tied for sixth at The Players in May.
He had three top-10 finishes in four tournaments before missing four-straight cuts coming into the PGA.
So, they might not be big names, but they have game.
“It just shows the depth (in golf) and how good guys are these days,” said Steele, who spent 2006-07 playing the Canadian Tour.
Steele and Dufner are one shot ahead of 25-year-old Keegan Bradley, who’s also playing his first major, and turned in a 69 Saturday.
Then come veterans Scott Verplank (69 and in fourth at five-under) and first-round leader Steve Stricker, who also had a 69 and sits in fifth at four-under.
They’re all looking for their first major as are Anders Hanson and D.A. Points, who are tied at three-under in sixth place.
The first guys with majors on their resumes are David Toms, who just happened to win the last PGA here in 2001 (he had a 65 Saturday, the low round of the day) and Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, who had a 66, and are tied for eighth, five back. Also in that group is Adam Scott, who won last week at the Bridgestone, but was treading water Saturday with an even-par 70.
Scott, one of those very talented players who hasn’t won a major, is not deterred being five shots off the pace.
“You can make up six shots on the last four holes, so yeah, I think you can make up six shots in the last round,” said the 31-year-old.
It’s going to be interesting to see if it’s going to be a player winning his first major Sunday -- there have been six first-time major winners the last six times out -- or if the likes of a Toms, Schwartzel or a Jim Furyk (six back in a tie for 13th with world No. 1 Luke Donald and No. 2 Lee Westwood) can draw on that experience to grab a second.
With the lack of experience in winning majors among the players at the top of the board, the PGA is kind of wide open.
“It could be a good thing, it might make me a little more relaxed knowing that everybody is kind of in the same boat, struggling with those emotions and thoughts and the mentality of trying to win a major,” said Dufner.
Steele said he’ll draw on his win earlier this year.
“That kind of blew my mind and put me in a comfort zone out there a little more,” he said. “It’ll probably be different in a major championship, but it’s still golf in the end.”