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Hard work paying off Steele (67) at Bay Hill

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ORLANDO, Fla.  Brendan Steele is getting a little more comfortable, both at Bay Hill and inside his own head.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old on Thursday tied his best career round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a 5-under 67 that had him tied for the early lead.

Steele has previously had some trouble on this course, missing back-to-back cuts in 2012 in 2013, posting a score no better than 73 and one as bad as 81.

But those troubles appear to be behind him now after two finishes of 35th or better the last two years and his six-birdie, one-bogey 67 in Round 1.

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"I learned how to play here. I haven't had the best results here. They've gotten better over the last couple of years," he said.

"When I first got here I think it was a little intimidating for me. I don't know I had all the shots that were required but I've kind of added those to my game over the last 6 years. I think it fits me pretty well."

Steele's lone win on Tour came at the Valero Texas Open in 2011. Last year featured four top-10s, including a runner-up showing at the CareerBuilder Challenge last January. At 78th in the Official World Golf Ranking, he currently finds himself outside the field for both next week's WGC-Dell Match Play and the Masters. 

In an effort to get back in the winner's circle and in the field for the game's premiere events, Steele has been working with his coach, Rick Smith, to shorten up his backswing and spending some extra time trying to manage his way around the course between his ears.

"Just been working really hard on my mental game," Steele said. "Trying to stick into the process, and when things start to go bad, to get back into what I want want to do instead of worrying about what I don't want."

"I've been feeling really good about my game," he added. "I've been adding pieces here and there and kind of waiting for it all to come together. I was excited to start today."