The Punter's De-Brief: Brilliant Berger closes out in style

Golfer Daniel Berger
Daniel Berger with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am trophy

Daniel Berger has won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to move up to number 13 in the world. Steve Rawlings looks back at his impressive success here...

"Berger was the deserved winner given he was on the wrong side of the draw. Considering how many multiple winners we get in the event, it would be no surprise to see him take the title again."

Having started the final round of the previous week's Phoenix Open tied for the lead, three-time major winner, Jordan Spieth, in search of his first victory since 2017, began the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two clear of the field and after he found the green in two at the par five second, the pre-event 30.029/1 chance was matched at a low of 2.56/4. But the eagle putt from 14 feet just failed to drop and that was as good as it got for the former winner.

A wayward driver severely hampered Spieth (ranked 57th for Driving Accuracy) and he eventually finished tied for third alongside pre-event favourite, Patrick Cantlay, who never really kicked on after a superb start.

Cantlay matched the course record at Pebble Beach on Thursday when he fired a 10-under-par 62 to kick off the tournament but a lost ball on his very first hole at Spyglass Hill on Friday set the tone for the next three days. The world number eight was on the premises throughout, but he never really looked like winning and the lowest he traded at was 2.767/4.

Having trailed Spieth by a couple of strokes with a round to go, pre-event 17.016/1 chance, Daniel Berger, soon hit the front with an eagle at the second and a birdie at the third but he wasn't having it all his own way as pre-tournament 240.0239/1 chance, Nate Lashley, played the front-nine in four-under-par.

Lashley missed a birdie putt from inside eight feet at 10 but he soon made up for it when he very nearly holed his approach on the 11th. Matched at a low of 2.447/5, Lashley led by a stroke as he and Berger looked likely to fight out the finish and the pair were tied after this brilliant approach by Berger at the tricky par five 14th.

Berger went odds-on after his birdie at the tricky par five 14th, a feat that Lashley, or any other player to finish inside the top-six, couldn't match and what had promised to be a dramatic finale never really materialised.

Maverick McNealy put in a fabulous finish, birdying 11,12, 13 and 15 before finding the par five 18th green in two and he was matched at a low of 3.02/1 as Lashley blew his opportunity with this meltdown on 16.

McNealy missed his eagle putt from 22 feet and although he drew level with Berger, it wasn't enough. Berger had fallen out of the lead on Saturday when he drove out of bounds on 18 in round three but he more than made up for that mishap as he eagled the hole when it really mattered to win by two.

Berger was very much the deserved winner given he was on the wrong side of the draw. Considering how many multiple winners we get in the event, it would be no surprise to see him take the title again.

My Bets

Although Berger overcame the draw, playing at Spyglass on day one was definitely a disadvantage. Will Gordon was the only player inside the top-10 to have played there after the opening round and Berger and Paul Casey were the only two players inside the top-14 and within seven of the lead at halfway that were drawn to play Spyglass on day one, so I was kicking myself for not adjusting my stakes after the draw was made.

Including the three Find Me a 100 Winner picks, six of the eight outsiders I backed before the off were allocated the wrong draw and all six were out of the reckoning after round one. The two drawn at Pebble in round one - Michael Thompson and Patton Kizzire - fared better but they too were ultimately disappointing but backing, and then laying, Lashley saved the week.

I backed Lashley after the opening round at 65.064/1 and I layed him back yesterday at 3.412/5 so it wasn't a disastrous week but it was a frustrating one.

My initial instinct on Saturday morning was to side with the winner at 4.77/2 but on closer inspection of his record in-contention of late, I changed my mind. He'd trailed Spieth by just a stroke after 36 holes but looking back, on the previous six occasions that he'd been within two strokes of the lead through two rounds his finishing positions had read 5-11-29-33-12-10, and that put me off.

One could argue that the likes of Spieth and Cantlay were disappointing over the weekend but it was impossible to crab Berger's weekend performance this time around.

Course form counts for plenty at Pebble

Course form can be overplayed some weeks but not at this event. Berger and McNealy had finished tied for fifth 12 months ago, and the likes of Spieth, Cantlay, Jason Day, Max Homa and Kevin Streelman all contended for the second year in-a-row.

It's sometimes hard to convince yourself to take a shorter price than players usually trade at because of a bit of previous event form but it's worth it here. Year after year the same faces contend, the leaderboard always has a familiar look to it and multiple event winners are common.

The same can be said about this week's event, the Genesis Open. I'll be back tonight or tomorrow with the preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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