PEBBLE BEACH, California – Daniel Berger quickly got into the mix with an eagle and finished it off with an even better one, hitting a 30-foot putt at par-5 18. for a 7-under 65 and a two-shot victory Sunday in AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Berger won for the second time since the PGA TOUR returned to golf from the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with a playoff victory at the Colonial last June.
This was another wild chase on a sharp, airy day along the Pacific Ocean, and Jordan Spieth went from leading to backward. He went from a two-shot lead to a three-shot deficit through six holes and went from the leading character to a supporting role. Spieth birdied the final two holes to a 70 to tie for third with Patrick Cantlay (68).
Maverick McNealy, who played at Stanford and once lived in a house near the 15th green on Pebble Beach, made five birdies over his last eight holes for a 66 and was tied for the lead after his eagle putt on the 18th stopped inches away.
Berger was in the group behind him, firing a fairway metal into the heart of the 18th green, 30 yards away. He only needed two putts for Bird to win, and ended with a flair instead.
“It was the best putt I’ve ever hit in my life,” Berger said.
Berger finished at 18-under 270 for his fourth career PGA TOUR victory.
Spieth finished in the top four for the second week in a row, a strong sign that his game is coming back after a drought dating to his 2017 Open Championship victory at Royal Birkdale.
The real heartache belonged to Nate Lashley.
Lashley, who played in the final group with Spieth, almost hollowed out his wedge on the 11th for a tap-in birdie that led him to 16 under and led with a shot. He was tied with Berger with three holes to play when Lashley went long on the 16th hole.
He struck out to 12 feet, missed par putts and then missed the next two putts from 3 foot range. It gave him a triple bogey from which he could not recover.
Berger was outside the top 100 in the world when golf returned last June as he tried to recover from injuries.
Cantlay was again plagued by Pebble Beach greens. He had five putts inside from 15 feet range on the back nine, most looked like they had a chance.
Berger hit 4-iron from 229 yards to 20 feet and rolled into the eagle tip on the par-5 second hole to catch Spieth early, and he followed with an aggressive drive that left a 5-foot flip wedge for the No. 3 birdie. He had three eagle pillows that day and narrowly missed a 10-foot attempt on the sixth hole.
Lashley quietly went into conflict with so much attention being paid to Spieth. Cantlay was never too far away. McNealy showed up late with his 31 on the back nine.
“I got the adrenaline pumping down the stretch there, and emotions that I hadn’t really felt on the golf course in a while, and tried to shut this out and give myself a chance,” McNealy said.
In the end, it was Berger able to win, and he delivered an eagle that he will not soon forget.
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