Daniel Berger overcame a storm delay and outlasted Phil Mickelson to win his first PGA Tour title in the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind.
Daniel Berger began the final round of the St. Jude Classic three clear of Phil Mickelson but had played just three shots of his final round when the horn sounded to signal a halt to play because of thunderstorms.
After a three-hour wait, Berger resumed play by missing a 10-foot par putt on the final green. That may have rattled some, but Berger composed himself well and reeled off four solid pars on the spin to steady the ship.
Although Brooks Koepka caught Berger at the top of the board, the youngster from Florida pulled clear again with two birdies before the turn.
On the back nine it was the veteran Mickelson who applied the pressure with two early birdies, including a monster putt on the par-3 12th. But his putter cooled on the run in, and that proved to be the difference. Berger kept things going nicely with a string of solid putts to hold off the chasers.
Alex Noren putting tips:
In the end, Berger closed with a 67 to finish three clear of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Steve Stricker.
3 Talking points from the FedEx St. Jude Classic
1 – This was Daniel Berger’s first PGA Tour victory. The 23-year-old lost a playoff to Padraig Harrington for the 2015 Honda Classic. He was named PGA Tour rookie of the year last season but, as Phil Mickelson jokingly pointed out to him during the rain delay at TPC Southwind, he achieved that without a win. Berger filled the gap in his CV with some style yesterday. He now heads to Oakmont for the U.S. Open Championship full of confidence.
“To get it done today means a lot,” he said. “To do it with so many great players, Hall of Famers, behind me is something I’ll never forget.”
2 – Dustin Johnson bounced back from a disappointing third round of 73 with a 10-shot improvement on Sunday. After a superb closing 63, Johnson is also feeling positive about his chances at Oakmont.
“On the back nine, I had great looks on every hole,” Johnson said. “Struck it a little better. I got a little sloppy with my setup the first couple days. Caused me to mishit some shots. I’m real comfortable, real confident going into next week.”
3 – Although it’s the U.S. Open next week, The Open Championship was on some players’ minds at TPC Southwind. With four Open spots to play for, it was Brian Gay, Steve Stricker, Russell Henley and Seung-Yul Noh who earned tee times at Royal Troon. This was Brian Gay’s first top-10 on the PGA Tour since November 2013. If Stricker plays at Troon it will be his first Open since 2012.
FedEx St. Jude Classic
TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
Purse $6,200,000, par 70
1 Daniel Berger (USA) 67 64 69 67 267 $1,116,000
T2 Brooks Koepka (USA) 70 65 69 66 270 $462,933
T2 Phil Mickelson (USA) 70 65 68 67 270 $462,933
T2 Steve Stricker (USA) 66 71 66 67 270 $462,933
5 Dustin Johnson (USA) 66 69 73 63 271 $248,000
6 Brian Gay (USA) 66 70 70 66 272 $223,200
T7 Russell Henley (USA) 68 68 70 67 273 $199,950
T7 Seung-Yul Noh (Kor) 65 72 67 69 273 $199,950
T9 Ken Duke (USA) 70 66 70 68 274 $167,400
T9 Shawn Stefani (USA) 65 71 73 65 274 $167,400
T9 Brett Stegmaier (USA) 67 69 69 69 274 $167,400
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage