Daniel Berger defends title at St. Jude Classic
Daniel Berger went back-to-back in Memphis and repeated as champion at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in the final event before the U.S. Open.
In his first PGA Tour event, amateur and NCAA Champion Braden Thornberry took the lead in the clubhouse with a five-under par round of 65, but Phil Mickelson was in prime position to contend for his first PGA Tour victory since 2013.
Mickelson vaulted up the tightly packed leaderboard with five-birdies in his first 10 holes, but a rookie mistake proved to be his undoing midway through the round.
In an interview after his round, Mickelson admitted that just before playing the 12th hole, he saw his spot atop the leaderboard and it “shook him.”
Mickelson may look back at the tournament as one that got away, and not just for the way he played the 12th. He carded double bogeys on the 18th hole in both the second and third rounds - meaning he played three of his 72 holes at seven-over par. Had Mickelson only managed bogeys on those holes, he would have won.
A huge playoff loomed with nine players within three shots of the lead, but Berger was flawless. He carded a bogey-free round of 66, taking a solo lead at the 15th hole by draining a 17-foot birdie putt.
Berger aced his last real test at the 17th, recovering from a drive under a tree by hitting a brilliant punch shot to the center of the green, then two-putting for his par.