North grad Duncan ties for fifth in Safeway Open

Staff and Wire Reports

NAPA, Calif. — Tyler Duncan gave it a run for 54 holes, but the Columbus North graduate had to settle for a tie for fifth place in his first event as a PGA Tour member.

Duncan, who was tied for the lead after the first round of the Safeway Open and held the lead by himself after the second and third rounds, bogeyed his first three holes Sunday on his way to a 75. His 65-66-71-75 gave him an 11-under-par 277 total, which was five shots behind winner Brendan Steele.

Duncan, 28, just earned his PGA Tour card last month and earned $235,600 for his first event as a tour pro.

Steele rallied to successfully defend his Safeway Open title, closing with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over Tony Finau in the season opener. Phil Mickelson and Chesson Hadley finished three shots behind.

Two strokes behind surprising leader Duncan entering the day at Silverado Resort and Spa, Steele birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes — holing a 3-footer on 18.

The 34-year-old Steele, from the Southern California mountain town of Idyllwild, finished at 14-under 273 for his third PGA Tour title. He also won the 2011 Valero Texas Open.

Finau, whose lone PGA Tour victory came in the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, moved into a tie for the lead with Steele at 14 under with a birdie on the par-4 13th. But he double-bogeyed the par-4 14th. After pars on 16 and 17, Finau had a 40-foot eagle putt on the 18th and settled for birdie and a 69.

Mickelson, who began the round four shots off the lead, birdied the 16th from 10 feet to move within one shot of Steele. But Mickelson, winless since the 2013 British Open, bogeyed the 17th before birdieing the 18th for a 70. It was Mickelson’s 27th third-place finish in 27 PGA Tour seasons.

Hadley finished with a 73. He had a course-record 61 in the second round. Duncan, a PGA Tour rookie who began the round with a one-stroke lead over Hadley, had five bogeys on the front nine and went 39-36 and finished with a 75 to tie for fifth with Graham DeLaet. DeLaet had a 72 on Sunday.

John Daly, the two-time major winner who won on his first PGA Tour Champions title in May, closed with a 79 to tie for 72nd at 5 over.

Duncan, a 2008 North and 2012 Purdue graduate, spent the past three years on the Tour. He won the 2007 IHSAA state individual championship.