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Daniel Berger Finishes With Eagle to Win at Pebble Beach

By: | Mon 15 Feb 2021 | Comments

JORDAN SPIETH’S search for a first victory since the 2017 Open Championship goes on. The American led the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am by two shots after three rounds but he came up short for the second week running as Daniel Berger eagled the 18th to snatch a dramatic two-shot win from Maverick McNealy.

Spieth has said that he would give it his best shot but if somebody shot a 65 he would just have to accept it. And that is precisely what Berger did, to finish the week on 18 under par and land his fourth PGA Tour title, and his second since the tour’s lockdown came to an end.

Spieth finished with a two-under-par 70 and will take many positives from the week. He finished fourth in Phoenix last week and ended the week at Pebble Beach in a tie for third with Patrick Cantlay. Spieth ended 2017 ranked second in the world but started 2021 in 82nd place in the rankings. But he will now head into the rest of season believing that a win is just around the corner.

“Right at this moment this does not feel like success,” said Spieth, an 11-time winner who has now gone 78 starts without winning. “I was leading by two and had control of my own destiny today. Even though Daniel went out and shot seven under I could have gotten up there. So it stings. Spieth birdied the second but dropped shots at the third and fifth. However he battled back with birdies at the seventh and 10th but once agin struggled with his driving.

“It’s not mental. I am as confident as I have been in a long time,” he said. “Not only the current outlook but also looking forward. So it is still mechanics. I made some really good swings this week under pressure and I made not some not so good swings under pressure. And there were more good ones than there were last week."

England's Paul Casey tied for fifth. He ended the tournament on 14 under, a shot behind Spieth and Cantlay. Scotland's Russell Knox was tied for sixth on 13 under after a final round of 70.

Berger looked set to have a close-fought battle with compatriot Nate Lashley, but Lashley came to grief when he took four putts from 12 feet at the 16th and walked off with a seven to end his hopes.

But Berger finished things off in style. It appeared that a birdie on the final hole would probably give him the win, but after a long second into par five he holed a 30-foot eagle putt and celebrated by punching the air

"It's hard to describe," Berger said. "I knew it would be a tight finish and I stepped up with a great drive and maybe the best three-wood I've ever hit in my life. The putt was the icing on the cake. It was a great feeling when it went in. It's so hard to win out here. I feel like everything has to come together to win.

"I've tried to get better in every aspect of my game and feel like I've accomplished that. I'm not the most talented guy out here and don't hit it the furthest, but I'll out-work anybody so that's my biggest weapon.

“I’ve been in this situation before, coming down the last hole, having to hit a good shot. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't, but you really have to be bold, and I feel like did I that today. I think the biggest thing is playing fearlessly. You can step up there and be concerned with all the different outcomes and all the different places that ball can go, but in the end it's just golf, it's just a golf shot and if you can step up there and kind of free your mind and be fearless, then you have such a better opportunity to hit a good shot.”

The shot actually called for a draw, but with the wind off the right and Stillwater Cove and rocks awaiting anything hit left, Berger struck a glorious cut and let the breeze bring the ball back. He said the yardage called for a full three wood, and claimed the shot was one of the best he had ever struck.

Berger first emerged on the scene along with Spieth, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele. He enjoyed success early on but then suffered a wrist injury and a loss of form. It is only since the PGA Tour resumed last year that he has finally begun to live up to his potential. He has been working with Cameron McCormick, who is also Spieth's long-standing coach.

Berger said McCormick has helped him develop a new outlook on the game, not doing much to his unique swing but helping him with a new perspective on his short game. When Berger told him he had one type of chip shot, with pretty much the same trajectory, same spin, McCormick asked: “How many of the best chippers in the world hit the same shot all the time?” Berger says that was the turning point.

Berger, who also won the Charles Schwab Challenge last year, is now 10th in the FedEx Cup standings and 13th in the world rankings and says that he wants to be the best player in the world.

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Tags: PGA Tour FedEx Cup

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