Brendan Steele chips the ball onto the ninth green of the Silverado Resort North Course during the first round of the PGA Tour golf tournament Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Napa, Calif. Steele shot a 9-under-par 63. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Eric Risberg
October 15, 2015

NAPA, Calif. (AP) Brendan Steele began the new PGA Tour season by making five straight birdies on his way to a 9-under 63 and the early lead in the Open.

Rory McIlroy is in between two seasons and opened with a 68.

In ideal conditions Thursday at Silverado, Steele had no stress. The only green he missed was on the par-3 seventh, where he got up-and-down for birdie. He finished the back nine with five straight birdies for a 29 and cooled only slightly on the front nine.

He had a one-shot lead over Jhonattan Vegas, who is playing on a sponsor's exemption. Harold Varner III made his rookie debut with a 65.

McIlroy is playing the Open before going to Asia to wrap up the European Tour season.

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