How and why Daniel Berger won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

In one sense Daniel Berger sealed the deal with just three shots, to complete a superb eagle at the 72nd hole, but in reality there was an awful lot more to his fourth PGA Tour win.

The transformation in Daniel Berger's form over the past year has been extraordinary and the latest example came last week with his victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

His 18-under-par total of 270 left him two blows clear of Maverick McNealy to land a fourth PGA Tour victory and also maintain a stellar 12 month charge up the world rankings.

At the start of February 2020 Berger had made just one top ten in his previous 34 starts worldwide and was languishing at 144th in the rankings.

Since then he has grabbed a neat 10 top 10 finishes in just 19 starts, two of them victories.

It's a run that has launched him to 13th spot in the world.

Let's take a closer look at how he completed his victory at Pebble Beach.

A superb final round chase

The nuts and bolts show that Berger shared the lead with Jordan Spieth after 53 holes, but hit his tee shot out of bounds at the par-5 18th hole on Saturday afternoon and so faced a two shot deficit heading into Sunday.

Undeterred, he made a blistering start to his final round, making eagle-3 at the second and birdie-3 at the third.

He was now bang in the hunt and consolidated his position through the rest of the front nine.

Birdies at the 10th and 14th had him tied with Nate Lashley at the top of the leaderboard as he walked to the final tee, perched alongside the Pacific Ocean, with memories of what happened 24 hours earlier all too fresh at the front and back of his mind.

Retribution at the 18th

Afterwards, Berger would say: "I feel like I got a little bit of revenge on the 18th.

"I knew it was going to be a tight finish and I just stepped up there and hit a great drive and hit maybe the best 3-wood I've ever hit in my life."

He explained that he had reminded himself that the tee shot actually sets up well for him and boy did he deliver.

And after finding the putting surface, and learning that Lashley had made a mess of the 16th, he drained the eagle putt.

"The icing on the cake," he said. "The best way I could have imagined finishing."

Back nine Sunday wisdom

Digging deeper, it's clear that, when tested by that final tee shot and last approach, Berger utilised previous experience of competing under the cosh.

"I think the biggest thing is playing fearlessly," he said.

"I've been in the situation before, coming down the last hole, having to hit a good shot, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't, but it's just golf and you really have to be bold.

"Winning a golf tournament just feels like you're having a heart attack on every hole, really.

"I stayed patient and I didn't hit a ton of amazing golf shots coming down the stretch, until the last, but I did enough and that's what it took."

Pebble Beach know-how

Wins in this tournament do not tend to come out of the blue - Berger was the 12th consecutive winner to have already owned a top 20 in the event.

In fact, his log book entry for the track was limited but very impressive: he'd finished T10th in 2015 (when contending all week) and tied fifth last year (a solid effort with a fast finish).

Berger found plenty of greens last week.
Berger found plenty of greens last week.

It was vital that he had learned lessons. "Pebble Beach is tough," he said. "You have to be aggressive when the course gives opportunities and I did that today."

Hard work and uncovering a secret

Ashed what had prompted the turnaround in his form Berger was bullish about his capacity to earn success.

"I've set some really high goals," he said, "and I'm not scared to put in the work.

"I'm not the most talented guy out here, I don't hit it the furthest, but I'll outwork anybody. That's my biggest weapon."

He also revealed: "I've really learned a lot about my game and what I need to do to get prepared every week.

"I have a little plan that works for me and it's paying off."

Aiming (very) high

In recent years Brooks Koepka has shown himself to be a master of self-motivation, of finding a bone to pick with the world, and maybe Berger has taken note?

"I do feel like I'm underrated," he said, when asked if he did. "But that's okay with me.

"I think it puts a little chip on my shoulder which is totally fine. A lot of the guys that are given credit deserve credit.

"But I've been pretty consistent and accomplished a lot for the short amount of time that I've played on tour.

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"You look at some of the other guys and what they have accomplished, I'm kind of right in line with that.

"I just want to continue to get better. My goal has always been to be the No. 1 player in the world.

"Some people will laugh at that and that's fine, but that's something that every day I wake up and I strive for."

Improved short game

Ahead of Berger's success the previous six tournament winners had ranked top ten for hitting Greens in Regulation and the new champion was no different - he ranked third in the field (77.8%).

He also ranked first for Scrambling (87.50%) which makes for a pretty solid combination and he credited the impact of his relatively new partnership with coach Cameron MacCormick.

"The first thing we talked about was my short game (because) I was hitting the same shot all the time.

"He rattled off 10 different people, the greatest chippers of all time, all with different shots in their game.

"He's given me a different outlook and you can see in the last 10 months how my game has improved."

At the end of the 2016 season he ranked 127th for Scrambling, he was 36th in 2017, 76th in 2018, 52nd in 2019 and in 2020? First.

The other numbers

Unsurprisingly, given his tee-to-green and around-the-green quality, Berger also ranked second for Strokes Gaines Tee-to-Green (9.034).

From 2015-19 the winners at Pebble ranked in the top two for Par-4 Scoring and, after Nick Taylor derailed that trend, Berger got it right back on track.

Only Jordan Spieth bettered his performance on the two-approach shot holes.

The future

"I feel there's no limit to what I can accomplish," he said, shortly after lifting the trophy.

Berger missed out on playing at the Masters last November, his form had not improved in time. Might he use that as another spur?

He's currently best price 40/1 with Unibet to find Green Jacket success at Augusta National in April.

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