To fully appreciate Titleist Brand Ambassador Brendan Steele's success story last week at the Valero Texas Open, you should probably be aware of his lob story, too.
Earlier this season at the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, Brendan dedicated a large chunk of his practice time to testing new lob wedges.
Brendan eventually decided on a Vokey Design Spin Milled TVD60º wedge bent to 62º (resulting in about 10º of bounce) that he felt would be beneficial for the soft conditions at Riviera Country Club.
Runner-up was a Vokey Design Spin Milled 60L wedge (also bent to 62º, resulting in about 6º of bounce), which Brendan planned on returning to Bob Vokey and the Vokey Tour team on his next trip to the Titleist Tour Van, parked just off the 11th fairway at Riviera.
But they wouldn't take it back, suggesting Brendan would find the lower bounce useful for upcoming events in Arizona and Texas.
"Hang on to it," Vokey Tour Rep Aaron Dill said.
A couple months later, Brendan was in his garage looking through his clubs, packing up for his trip to the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, when the 60L wedge caught his eye. He threw it in his bag.
"And it's a good thing I did," Brendan said Tuesday during a practice round at Harbour Town, about 48 hours after winning the Valero Texas Open for his first PGA Tour victory. "Because that club saved me a bunch of times last week!"
Brendan began the week at Valero working with his 60L wedge only around the greens. It didn't take long for him to realize the wedge could also work wonders from TPC San Antonio's hard and tight fairways.
"I found myself laying up to the 62º a bunch," he said.
On the 604-yard par-5 8th hole, for example, Brendan laid up to 75 yards on Thursday and Saturday and made two birdies.
"The pin was up on a shelf in the back, and everything slopes away behind it," he said. "I landed it on the shelf with the right amount of zip to hold it and sank the putts."
On Sunday at the 591-yard par-5 18th, Brendan stood in the middle of the fairway with a one-shot lead, faced with a second shot of about 250 yards over water to the middle of the green. He decided to lay up to about 75 yards and take water out of play.
"If I were to hit in the water or something stupid that would be an even bigger mistake than hitting it up there and having a wedge and being able to hit it close," Brendan told the media after his round.
On Friday, Brendan hit his third shot with his 60L into the 18th green and watched his Pro V1x golf ball hit the slope and spin back to 5 feet. "I missed the birdie putt, but I did what I had to do on my third," he said.
Of course, Sunday's shot came under a bit different conditions, with his name at the top of the leaderboard.
"I didn't count I was going to juice my wedge over the green and kind of get it up there and ride the wind," he said. "I still think that was a pretty good decision for us."
From behind the green, Brendan used his Vokey Design Spin Milled TVD58º wedge to pitch to about 8 feet from the pin. He made the par putt, celebrating his breakthrough with a few furious fist pumps.
"I was just amped up and flew the green," he said, smiling. "It all worked out, though."