Steele, who moved to eight under after just 13 holes before
closing with five successive pars, ended the day with a one-stroke
lead over compatriots Ryan Moore and Bud Cauley at the TPC River
Americans Chad Campbell, Joe Durant, Jeff Maggert, Scott Langley and
Eric Axley carded 64s while 2010 winner and reigning Masters
champion Bubba Watson opened with a 67.
Steele, who won his only PGA Tour title at the 2011 Texas Open, made
a sizzling start as he holed out from 129 yards to eagle the
He then birdied the second, seventh and eighth, where he drained a
27-footer, to reach the turn in five-under 30 before picking up
further shots at the 11th, 12th and 13th.
"The thoughts crept in," Steele, 31, told reporters about the
opportunity to shoot a 59 with three more birdies required over his
last five holes. "If they don't creep in, do I shoot 59, do I shoot
"It definitely was in the back of my mind, so probably amped me up a
little bit more, so made everything a little bit tougher."
Steele was delighted, though, to reap reward on Thursday after
playing some good golf over the past few months without getting the
scores he felt he deserved, including missed cuts in his previous
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"I haven't been getting a lot out of it," said the Californian, who
has recorded just two top-10s in 18 starts on the 2013-14 PGA Tour,
his best finish a tie for sixth at the Phoenix Open in February.
"I felt like I was really playing well at Byron Nelson and at
Memorial and missed both cuts. I was just getting a little sloppy, a
little lazy behind the ball, not seeing the shot, not getting into
it the right way."
American world number five Matt Kuchar opened with a 66 while
compatriot Ken Duke, who won last year's Travelers Championship in a
playoff with Chris Stroud, returned a 65.
Australian Oliver Goss, one of four players in the field making
their professional debuts this week, carded a 70. Erik Compton, a
double heart-transplant recipient who tied for second at the U.S.
Open four days ago, posted a 74.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank
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