Daniel Berger held off a host of challengers, among the Phil Mickelson, to take the title at the St. Jude Classic on Sunday, the first of his career and the last tournament before the US Open, which begins on Thursday.
Playing like an old pro, the 23-year-old native of Florida saw Mickelson close within one stroke and responded with a 32-foot putt on the par-3 No. 14 to push his lead to three strokes.
He won in his 50th career start, making him the 13th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year. Prize money? $1.1 million.
It’s a great way to go into the US Open for Berger, and a good warm-up for Mickelson, who has famously finished second at the event six different times. Berger now hopes to defy the odds and become the first player ever to win a PGA title and then win the US Open the following week. Only 11 players ever have won a Major immediately after winning a tournament, the last being Rory McIlroy, who first won the WGC-Bridgestone and then the PGA Championship in 2014.
Berger never gave the competition any real break in his game to catch up, firing a 67-64-69-67 – 267 to finish ahead by three strokes over Mickelson, Steve Stricker, and Brooks Koepka.
Dustin Johnson tried to get into the final mix with a closing round 63, but wound up alone in fifth at 9-under. He tied the course record on the back nine with a 29, recording five birdies and an eagle.