St Jude Classic 2016
Round 4 - Daniel Berger claims first PGA Tour win
June 13, 2016
Killing time during a three-hour rain delay Sunday, Phil Mickelson ribbed Daniel Berger about having won the PGA Tour rookie of the year award without a victory.
That was a bit of a sore spot for the ultra-competitive 23-year-old Floridian.
Berger answered once the thunderstorms ended by winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic for his first title. He shot a 3-under 67 to hold off Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Brooks Koepka by three strokes.
''To kind of get it done today means a lot,'' Berger said.
Berger had never been in a final pairing until Sunday. First Mickelson needled him in the players' dining area while everyone waited out the lightning. Then, Mickelson, with his 42 career PGA Tour titles, closed within a stroke on the back nine. Berger responded with birdies on three of his next four holes, highlighted by a 32-foot putt on the par-3 14th that pushed his lead to 13 under.
He finished at 13-under 267. He became the 13th first-time winner on tour this season and took home the winner's check of $1.1 million in the 50th start of his career.
''To do that with so many great players, Hall of Famers behind me, it's something that I'll never forget and I just love the way I hung in there and was able to get it done,'' Berger said.
Mickelson and Stricker shot 67, and Koepka had a 66. Dustin Johnson had a 63, setting the back-nine record with a 29, to finish fifth at 9 under.
Mickelson complimented Berger for playing the back nine really well and said he enjoyed being in contention even though the veteran couldn't quite catch the youngster.
''For the most part I hit a lot of good shots, played pretty well and seems, it almost feels like U.S. Open came a week early to finish another second place,'' Mickelson said.
Berger also became the fourth first-time winner at this event in the past six years and 10th overall in Memphis.
Now he will head to Oakmont trying to do something no one has ever done before by following up a tour title by winning the U.S. Open. Only 11 have ever won a major after winning on tour, and Rory McIlroy was the last when he won the PGA Championship the week after taking the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2014.
He'll be arriving pretty confident too.
''When I played in the Masters for the first time I think I finished 10th, five shots behind and didn't really play that great,'' Berger said. ''So, you know if I can go in there next week and play good, then obviously I have what it takes to get the W.''
The thunderstorms slowed down the confident Berger, and only for a hole. He had hit only hit three shots when the horn sounded. Play finally resumed at 4 p.m., and Berger resumed by two-putting from 10 feet on No. 1 for bogey.
Berger already had finished second twice with a total of nine top 10s in his young career. He shook off the bogey by stringing together four straight pars with Koepka catching him atop the leaderboard at 9 under before bogeying No. 8.
He birdied Nos. 6 and 11 to make the turn at 11 under.
He stumbled on No. 10, two-putting from 10 feet again for bogey. Mickelson went to 9 under with two birdies on his first three holes on the back nine, which included a 44-footer on the par-4 12th. Then Mickelson's putter failed him as he just missed from 11 feet on No. 13 and 17 feet on No. 14 chasing his first win since the 2013 British Open.
Berger had no such issues as he rolled in putts of 8 feet on No. 12, the 32-footer on No. 14 - the same hole he put his tee shot into the water Saturday and double bogeyed - and a 22-footer on No. 15. That proved more than enough margin as Mickelson birdied the par-5 16th.
Johnson rebounded from a 73 by shooting the best round this week before heading to Oakmont. He chipped in for eagle on No. 16 from 16 feet and holed out from 22 feet on No. 18 to set the back-nine record. That put him a stroke back of Berger who had 11 holes to play, but Johnson felt good about his game with the U.S. Open next.
''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.''
Round 3 - Daniel Berger maintains advantage
June 12, 2016
Daniel Berger has yet to win on the PGA Tour. He's confident enough to believe that's just a matter of time, and he has put himself in position to make the FedEx St. Jude Classic his first title.
Having Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker just three strokes behind isn't shaking his self-assurance either.
''If it was Tiger Woods behind me, I would have the same mentality,'' Berger said Saturday after a 1-under 69 that left him with the same three-stroke lead he had after 36 holes. ''It doesn't matter. It's golf. The golf course doesn't know who is playing it, so I'm just going to go out there and be aggressive and have some fun, and that's all I can do.''
Berger, the 2014-15 rookie of the year, had led after a round on tour only once before this event back in 2014. Now he has led consecutive rounds, and Berger had four birdies, a bogey and a double bogey on a hot, sticky day to reach 10-under 200.
Mickelson (68), Stricker (66) and Points (64) were 7 under.
Seung-yul Noh (67), Colt Knost (67) and Brooks Koepka (69) were 6 under.
Mickelson has 42 career wins and is looking for his first win since the 2013 British Open. Berger, who refused to concede a 1-foot putt to Mickelson in March at the WGC-Dell Match Play, said Woods was the player he admired growing up. The 23-year-old Floridian also calls Mickelson by his full name Phillip.
''He says only his wife calls him that, I can't call him that until I win on the PGA Tour,'' Berger said. ''But I still call him that anyway.''
Mickelson played two groups ahead of Berger on Saturday and will be in the group ahead of the leader in the final round.
''That's always an advantageous spot if you can get off to a good day,'' Mickelson said. ''It's much more difficult to follow birdies than it is to lead by them.''
With so many experienced players and big names chasing him on a day where the temperature felt close to 100 degrees, Berger hit 13 of 18 greens playing conservatively enough with six straight pars at one point that he finished Saturday with the same three-stroke lead he had after the second round.
Berger couldn't hold onto the lead after the opening round of the 2014 OHL Classic at Mayakoba and wound up tied for 51st. He already has three top 10s this season and is looking for more before heading to Oakmont for the U.S. Open.
He kept his three-stroke lead with a birdie on No. 3. After a bogey on No. 5, Berger came right back with a birdie before running into trouble on the par-3 14th. He hit his tee shot into the water in front and two-putted from 16 feet for bogey trimming his lead down to a stroke.
Mickelson, who had strung together seven straight pars of his own, birdied the par-5 16th to tie Berger atop the leaderboard at 8 under.
Berger took the lead back to himself by taking advantage of the par-5 at No. 16. He hit his approach onto the fringe of the long green and two-putted from 33 feet for birdie. Berger then pushed his lead back to three strokes with his second straight birdie. After putting his approach into the rough beside the green, Berger chipped in from 26 feet to go back to 10 under.
Mickelson hit his third shot 22 feet past the hole on the par-4 17th. He missed the par putt just right and wound up with his first bogey in 22 holes. Mickelson hit his tee shot on No. 18 into a fairway bunker and had to roll in an 18-footer to save par after his first putt attempt came up short of the green.
Now he only wants to hit his irons a bit closer Sunday.
''Hopefully, I'll find it for tomorrow's round because it's only going to take a few more fairways hit and a few more birdie opportunities the way I'm putting to try to get this done,'' Mickelson said.
Stricker, 49, hasn't won since the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but he tied for seventh at the Valspar Championship in March. The captain of the U.S. team for the 2017 Presidents Cup had a four-birdie, bogey-free day to keep close to Berger. He'll play with Mickelson on Sunday.
''I'll be nervous,'' Stricker said. ''It's been a while since I've been up there and have an opportunity to win. I'm excited for the challenge. That's what we want to be out here for is to get into that position.''
Round 2 - Daniel Berger takes lead with a 64
June 11, 2016
Daniel Berger shot a season-best 6-under 64 on Friday to take a three-stroke lead in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee.
Berger had six birdies in his bogey-free morning round to reach 9-under 131 at TPC Southwind, and nobody caught him atop the leaderboard. Berger has started well, despite breaking in a new driver and 3-wood after his old clubs finally cracked last week from age.
Tom Hoge, part of a three-way tie for the lead after the first round, was second after a 69. He birdied the final two holes in the next to last group.
Dustin Johnson, the 2012 champion, had a chance to catch Berger until dropping three strokes on the final two holes. Johnson finished with a 69 after wiping out four birdies and an eagle with three bogeys and a double bogey on No. 18 with what he called bad swings at the end.
That finish left Johnson tied with Phil Mickelson (65) and Brooks Koepka (65) at 5 under. Mickelson, winless since the 2013 British Open, matched his low round this year with six birdies and one bogey. He's here fine-tuning his game for the U.S. Open next week, the one major that has eluded him in his career.
Round 1 - Tom Hoge leads with opening 65
June 10, 2016
Tom Hoge fired a bogey-free, five-under-par 65 to share the opening-round lead at the PGA Tour's $6.2 million St. Jude Classic.
Shawn Stefani and South Korea's Noh Seung-Yul on Thursday also carded 65s while Dustin Johnson, Brian Gay, Steve Stricker, Colt Knost, Argentina's Miguel Angel Carballo and Wales' Jamie Donaldson shared fourth place at 66.
"The key to the round was hole nine. I had to lay up to 130 (yards). I was able to get up and down and keep the momentum going," the 27-year-old Hoge said.
Eight players, including Justin Leonard and South Africa's Retief Goosen, are tied for 10th at 67 at the TPC Southwind course.
Hoge made consecutive birdies on numbers four, five and six, then added another two straight at No. 12 and 13.
"I got off to a little bit of a slow start there," said Hoge, who is ranked 237th in the world. "I was in good position the first few holes and didn't hit it close at all. Luckily, I pieced together a few good shots."
Hoge is appearing in his 45th career PGA Tour event, and is still looking for his first career win.
He posted his first two top-10 finishes earlier this season, comprising a pair of ties for ninth at the RSM Classic and the Valero Texas Open.
He failed to make the cut in seven of 17 tournaments this season.
Noh, 25, is seeking his second win on the PGA Tour in his 132nd event. In 2014, he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.