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Monday Finish: Daniel Berger captures AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

The eagle has landed.

Clinging to a one-shot lead over Bay Area product Maverick McNealy (66), Daniel Berger leaves no doubt with an eagle at the par-5 18th hole to shoot 65 and salt away his fourth PGA TOUR victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. 

Berger’s second eagle of the day (par-5 second hole) was his fourth of the week, a career high and the most by a winner at this tournament. He moves from 63rd to 10th in the FedExCup.

Here are five stories you may have missed from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.    

1. Berger eyes mountaintop.

Berger’s second eagle of the day (par-5 second hole) was his fourth of the week, a career high and the most by a winner at this tournament. He moves from 63rd to 10th in the FedExCup.

Although he is often overlooked in comparison to other members of golf’s vaunted high school class of 2011 (Schauffele, Spieth, Thomas), Berger says that’s fine with him. He’s plenty used to playing with a chip on his shoulder, and he’s not about to settle for average or even pretty good.

“I do feel like I’m underrated, but that’s OK with me,” said Berger, 27, who prevailed just one week after his former Florida State teammate, Brooks Koepka, won the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “I just think it’s puts a little chip on my shoulder which is totally fine. I think a lot of the guys that they give credit to deserve credit. But I’ve been pretty consistent, and I’ve accomplished a lot for the short amount of time that I’ve played out here on TOUR.”

Pretty consistent? That’s an understatement. Berger’s closing 65 was his 26th consecutive round of par or better, the longest active streak on TOUR. Cameron Tringale (67, T7) is next with 24.

“I just want to continue to get better,” Berger continued. “I feel like, my goal has always been to be the No. 1 player in the world and some people will laugh at that and that’s fine, but that’s something that every day I wake up and I strive for.”

Read more about his brilliant win here.

2. McNealy threatening to break through.

Runner-up McNealy, a 12-time winner at Stanford just a few hours up the coast, now has two top-10 finishes in 50 career TOUR starts. He tied for fifth at the 2020 AT&T at Pebble.

“It was fun,” McNealy said after making five back-nine birdies for an inward 31. “I had the adrenaline pumping coming down the stretch there and feelings that I hadn’t really felt on the golf course in a little while, trying to close this out and give myself a chance.”

Knowing he was in contention, he was especially proud to smash his drive and reach the green in two at the par-5 18th, where he gave himself an eagle look from just inside 22 feet.

Alas, the ball veered away at the last instant and he settled for a tap-in birdie.

“I’ve always been a guy that has to earn my own confidence,” said McNealy, who will tee it up at The Genesis Invitational at Riviera this week. “I can’t stand there and just tell myself I’m good at something or I’m doing something right. I have to earn it with myself too. 

“I feel like I earned a lot of confidence … I’m excited to get to playing again.”

3. Spieth comeback still ‘progressing’.

Former world No. 1 and 2015 FedExCup champ Jordan Spieth (70, T3) hit his fewest fairways of the week Sunday (42.86%), and it proved costly as his three bogeys left him three back.

On the bright side, he has gone from FedExCup 179th to 64th the last two weeks, what with his T3 at Pebble coming on the heels of a T4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open – his first back-to-back top-five finishes since 2018 (Vivint Houston Open, Masters Tournament).

What’s more, Spieth has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead in two consecutive starts after getting lost with his swing and missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

“If I look back at Friday night of San Diego and you tell me I was going to share and have the 54-hole lead two weeks in a row and really just fight, finish strong to both weeks, I would have said you’re crazy, to be honest,” Spieth said. “I was not in a great head space following that missed cut there and just did some really phenomenal work from Sunday through Wednesday of last week that was probably the best period of a few days of work that I’ve put in in a long time.”

It’s just a matter of time, he added, before he wins again.

“If I put myself in the position of leading after 54 holes enough times,” he said, “especially with how I know I’m going to fight even if it’s not going my way, I’ll end up on top one of these days.”

4. Knox battles back after penalty.

Two-time TOUR winner Russell Knox (70, T7) hadn’t been in contention for a while, so it was especially frustrating to be dealt a one-shot penalty on the very first hole.

He was over his second shot when he saw the ball move. Had he addressed it? If so, he would get a one-shot penalty as per the Rules of Golf, as happened to playing partner Maverick McNealy on Saturday. Knox made par and wrote it down. Rules officials went to the videotape.

He birdied the second and third holes, hit his approach to three feet at the fourth. He was, he said, “flying.” Then he came back to earth. His birdie putt at the fourth horseshoed out, his tee at the par-3 fifth found the bunker, and while walking toward the green he was told that he would be dealt a one-shot penalty for the ball moving at address at the first

“It’s just one of those horrible Rules which every one of us is against,” Knox said after birdies at 17 and 18 gave him his first top-10 finish since a T9 at the Safeway Open in September. “There’s no advantage gained in any way, and it happened to Maverick yesterday, my playing partner.”

Still, Knox, who barely missed the FedExCup Playoffs last season (127th), moved from 73rd to 54th in the standings as he continues to chase his form of 2016, when he won twice. 

“I’m super happy the way I played,” he said. “Obviously a few weird things happened today, so obviously it wasn’t my day, but my game is in good shape and I look forward to the future.”

5. Cantlay new FedExCup No. 1.

Patrick Cantlay (68, T3) hit the ball well enough to win but faulted his putting.

“I didn’t get them to go in today,” he said after a five-birdie, one-bogey effort.

Still, he moved to FedExCup No. 1 with a victory (ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD), runner-up (The American Express) and T3 (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) on the young season.

Now the Southern California and UCLA product heads to his hometown tournament, The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he will be one of the heavy favorites.

“All parts of my game are really good,” he said, “and I really love Riviera, so I’m going to … get rested over the next couple days and know that my game’s in a good spot.”

TOUR TOP 10

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