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Posted June 12, 2017 in "Watts" In The Bag by Trevor Cigich
On a Sunday that included a nine-way tie for the lead and no less than a dozen players with legitimate opportunities to win, Daniel Berger fought through the claustrophobic conditions and sucked the drama out of the FedEx St. Jude Classic long before the final pairing of Stewart Cink and Rafa-Cabrera-Bello completed play.
Berger’s successful title defense can be attributed mainly to his outstanding ball-striking; the former Florida State Seminole led the field in strokes gained tee to green and never recorded a double bogey or worse on a dangerous TPC Southwind layout. And for those who believe in superstitions, he stayed in the exact same hotel room he used during his victory in 2016.
“I’m 1-for-1 defending titles, so that’s a pretty good stat,” said Berger, 24.
Before birdies at Nos. 13 and 15 separated Berger from the pack, a number of possibilities floated in the light Memphis breeze. Phil Mickelson made an inspired charge with five birdies in his first 10 holes, but a triple bogey at No. 12 sunk his chances as he finished ninth. (Incidentally, Lefty estimated he will need a four-hour weather delay during the first round of the U.S. Open in order to make his Thursday tee time at Erin Hills from his daughter’s high school graduation in California).
While Mickelson still hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since the 2013 Open Championship, Stewart Cink hasn’t prevailed since hoisting the Claret Jug in 2009. Cink, whse wife, Lisa, has been battling breast cancer, led heading into the back nine but quickly coughed up any chance he had to win with a double bogey on No. 11.
Included in a wild logjam at the top was amateur Braden Thornberry, the recent NCAA champion out of Ole Miss. Thornberry closed with a 5-under 65 and finished in a tie for fourth, the best amateur result on the PGA Tour since Lee McCoy finished solo fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship.
Driver: Callaway GBB Epic (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 53X
3 Wood: Callaway GBB Epic (15 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Elements Chrome 7F5T
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (50-10, 56-10, 58-08)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400
Putter: Odyssey 2-Ball Prototype
Golf Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft