Daniel Berger Wins 2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic Despite Phil Mickelson's Rally

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2017

Daniel Berger hits from the edge of the rough on the first hole during the final round of the St. Jude Classic golf tournament Sunday, June 11, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Phil Mickelson briefly sent the St. Jude crowd into an uproar by pushing his way to the top of the leaderboard, but it was Daniel Berger who walked away Sunday with the championship.

Berger carded a four-under 66 in his final round to beat out Charl Schwartzel and Meen Whee Kim by one stroke and win the 2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic. The 24-year-old has won the event each of the last two years—his only pair of triumphs on the PGA Tour.  

David Toms (2003, '04), Lee Trevino ('71, '72) and Dave Hill ('69, '70) are the only three previous repeat winners.

Berger played the final 18 holes without a bogey despite hitting less than half of his fairways and only two-thirds of his greens in regulation. Most of his round was spent knocking down clutch pars and taking advantage of his relatively few easy birdie attempts.

Aside from a birdie on the par-five third, Berger recorded all of his birdies on par fours. He hit a five-foot putt on No. 7 and made the turn at 33, then added another pair of birdies on Nos. 13 and 15. The latter put him ahead of the field for good. Both back-nine birdies came due to spectacular shots.

Berger hit a 150-yard approach to within 16 inches of the cup on No. 13 and hit this 17-foot birdie putt on the 15th:

The Florida native played the weekend eight under and moved into 10th place on the FedEx Cup standings with the win. It's his third top five of the season and first since April's Shell Houston Open.

Schwartzel likewise shot a final-round 66 and will likely view this tournament as one that got away. His rounds of 65 and 66 in the first two days gave him a commanding advantage heading into the weekend, but a third-round 74 wound up being his undoing. He was back in full command of his game Sunday, and started off with three straight birdies before settling back into a more sustainable rhythm.

A bogey on No. 6 is the only thing that kept Schwartzel from forcing a playoff. 

Kim dropped a stroke on No. 10, or  he would have been in a playoff for his first career PGA Tour win. The 25-year-old South Korean nonetheless carded a 67 on Sunday for his best performance since joining the tour.

A group of five players, highlighted by amateur Braden Thornberry, finished two strokes back at eight under. Thornberry's final-round 65 put him in that position.

Mickelson, meanwhile, finished alone in ninth place after a flame-out cost him a chance at the title. Lefty ascended to the top of the leaderboard after shooting a front-nine 32 and a birdie on No. 10.

A disastrous 12th hole, which saw Mickelson hit his tee shot out of play and then drop his fourth-shot approach into the water, ended all chances of him pulling out the victory. 

"It was right behind the hole on 11. I saw I was tied for the lead, and it kind of shook me, to be honest. It threw me because I didn't expect to be there. I thought I was still chasing, and it was as if I've never won before," Mickelson said after the round, per PGATour.com.

Mickelson hasn't won on the PGA Tour since the 2013 Open Championship.

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