Sunday's roundup: Berger’s birdie binge leads to St. Jude title

Teresa M. Walker
Associated Press
Daniel Berger watches his shot on the 9th tee final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament Sunday in Memphis, Tenn.

Memphis, Tenn. — Daniel Berger won the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Sunday for his first PGA Tour title, shooting a 3-under 67 to hold off Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Brooks Koepka by three strokes.

The 23-year-old Floridian had never been in a final pairing until Sunday. When Mickelson, with his 42 career PGA Tour titles, closed within a stroke, Berger birdied three of his next four holes, highlighted by a 32-foot putt on the par-3 14th that pushed his lead to 13 under.

Berger finished at 13-under 267. He became the 13th first-time winner on Tour this season and took home the winner’s check of $1.1 million in the 50th start of his career.

“It’s the greatest feeling,” Berger said. “You work so hard to get here and to finally be able to put the trophy up, there’s no way I can describe it.”

Mickelson and Stricker shot 67, and Koepka had a 66 in the round that was delayed three hours because of storms. Dustin Johnson had a 63, setting the back-nine record with a 29, to finish fifth at 9 under.

Brian Stuard (Oakland University) shot a 75 Sunday and tied for 73rd. Justin Hicks (Grosse Ile) shot 70 and tied for 70th.

Berger also became the fourth first-time winner at this event in the past six years and 10th overall in Memphis.

Now he will head to Oakmont trying to do something no one has ever done before by following up a tour title by winning the U.S. Open. Only 11 have ever won a major after winning on Tour, and Rory McIlroy was the last when he won the PGA Championship the week after taking the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2014.

The thunderstorms slowed down the confident Berger, and only for a hole. He had hit only hit three shots when the horn sounded. Play finally resumed at 4 p.m. local time, and Berger resumed by two-putting from 10 feet on No. 1 for bogey.

But the 2014-15 rookie of the year who already has finished second twice with a total of nine top 10s in his young career, shook off the bogey by stringing together four straight pars with Koepka catching him atop the leaderboard at 9 under before bogeying No. 8. Berger birdied Nos. 6 and 11.

LPGA

Brooke Henderson beat top-ranked Lydia Ko with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff Sunday in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship after overcoming a three-shot deficit on the back nine.

Henderson, a 18-year-old Canadian ranked No. 4 in the world, closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65 — the best round of the week at Sahalee — to match Ko at 6-under 278. Ko finished with a 67.

In the playoff on the par-4 18th, Henderson hit her second shot from 155 yards to 3 feet, while Ko’s second from farther back in the fairway left her with 20 feet. Ko missed to the left and Henderson tapped in to cap a week that started with a hole-in-one on her fourth hole of the tournament and ended with a major championship.

Ariya Jautanugarn, who had won her last three events including the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor last month, shot 66 to finish a stroke back. She missed a birdie putt on the 18th that could have put her into the playoff.

Champions

Bernhard Langer won the Constellation Senior Players Championship for the third straight year, holing a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Miguel Angel Jimenez and Joe Durant at windy Philadelphia Cricket Club.

Langer, 58, won his seventh senior major — his fifth in the last 11 — to tie Hale Irwin for second place on the career list, a victory behind Jack Nicklaus.

Three strokes ahead at 2 under entering the round, Langer closed with a 3-over 73 to finish at 1-over 281 — the highest winning score in the history of the event first played in 1983.

U.S. Open

When: Thursday-Sunday

Where: Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, 7,255 yards, par 70

TV: Thursday and Friday — FS1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fox – 5-8 p.m. Saturday — Fox, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday — Fox, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

2015 winner: Jordan Spieth