Daniel Berger emerged from nine co-leaders during the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic to claim a one-shot victory and defend his only PGA Tour title.
The reigning-champion headed into the final round at TPC Southwind three shots off the lead but posted a final-round of 66 to overcome a crowded leading pack and beat Charl Schwartzel and Whee Kim by a single shot.Embed from Getty Images
At the turn of the back nine Stewart Cink held the outright lead by one shot over a six-way tie for second; that included Billy Horschel and amateur Braden Thornberry who had closed out a 64 and a 65 respectively. Phil Mickelson had got himself into a tie for the lead briefly before a triple-bogey on the 12th scuppered his challenge.
Schwartzel came within inches of an eagle on the 16th but, settling with a birdie, moved level with Cink at nine-under-par. Berger then stuck a wedge to one-foot on the 13th and knocked in for birdie to take a share for the lead himself.Embed from Getty Images
Cink still held the cards with the entire back nine yet to play. However, this started as a disadvantage with a bogey to open the back-nine to fall away and leave Schwartzel and Berger atop the leaderboard. It was then Kim’s turn to join the leaders with a birdie on the 15th – still with the par five 16th ahead.
Cink then fell further away with a double-bogey on the 11th to drop himself from solo leader to an eight-way tie for 11th in the space of two holes. Schwartzel closed out his round of 66 to set the clubhouse target at nine-under-par, ruling Horschel and Thornberry out of the running. In the mean time though, Berger birdied the 15th to move the lead to 10-under.
A streak of pars followed for Kim and Berger as Kim closed out a 67 to join Schwartzel in the clubhouse at nine-under. It was to be in vein though, as Berger attacked the 18th pin and made par to set the new clubhouse target at 10-under and remove both Schwartzel and Kim from the running.Embed from Getty Images
Rafa Cabrera-Bello, two shots off the lead with four to play as Berger closed his round, was the only man left in the field with a chance of catching Berger. It wasn’t to be enough though, and the world-number-43 claimed his second PGA Tour and second FedEx St. Jude Classic title.