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Analysis: Pebble win makes Berger feel he belongs among best

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Daniel Berger believes he is among the best in golf. At least he stopped wanting assigning his personal rating.

He is a part of the fabled highschool graduating class of 2011, besides Berger is usually listed within the “other” class. The group contains Jordan Spieth together with his three legs of the profession Grand Slam among 14 victories worldwide, and Justin Thomas together with his 13 worldwide wins and a PGA Championship.

Xander Schauffele was solely talked about after his two-win rookie season included the Tour Championship, after which he backed that up with a World Golf Championships title, seemingly fixed appearances close to the highest of the leaderboard in majors and a world rating that hardly ever is out of the highest 10.

Berger was not even among the highest 100 when golf returned from the COVID-19 pandemic in June. He had modified swing coaches to Cameron McCormick. He was recovering from wrist accidents that left him questioning if he’d ever get again.

And then he gained at Colonial in a playoff. He almost gained at Hilton Head. He was runner-up at a World Golf Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, on the TPC Southwind course the place he had gained twice.

More validation arrived on the AT&T; Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a event he in all probability ought to have been enjoying extra typically. He tied for tenth in 2015. He didn’t return till final yr and tied for fifth (albeit 10 photographs behind Nick Taylor).

While his victory Sunday gained’t go down as the most important of his 4 PGA Tour titles by world rating requirements, it may need been essentially the most satisfying the way in which he gained.

Berger misplaced a share of the lead Saturday on the par-5 18th by flaring his drive out to the appropriate, over a bunker and by inches out-of-bounds, resulting in double bogey. He arrived on the 18th gap Sunday in a tie for the lead with Maverick McNealy, who shot 31 on the again 9.

“One of the best finishing holes I’ve ever played,” Berger stated. “Obviously, with everything that happened on Saturday, hitting that ball out-of-bounds, to step up there and hit a great drive and then one of the best 3-woods I’ve ever hit in my life, and then to make that putt is as good as it gets for me.”

He hit 3-wood from 250 yards to 30 ft, and wanting solely to two-putt for the win, watched it dropped for eagle. It was his fourth eagle of the week, tying a report at Pebble since such statistics began being saved in 1983.

That’s two victories in his final 16 begins over eight months, and whereas he solely moved up two spots to No. 13 on the earth due to the weak area, it’s higher than when he returned.

And the arrogance is just not missing.

“I think today really solidified my position as one of the best golfers out here and I just need to continue to do the things I’ve been doing,” he stated. “And I feel like there’s no, there’s no limit to what I can accomplish.”

Patrick Reed nonetheless will get a tough time for saying he felt he was one of many top-5 gamers after his victory at Doral in a World Golf Championship in 2014. Reed meant that as an adjective, and when chatting about it firstly of the yr, identified that he had three wins in his final 14 begins. During that stretch, he couldn’t consider many higher.

Berger was thinking more about the “now” and how much better he could get.

It was six years ago during a practice round at the Valspar Championship that four players from that class of ‘11 were together – Spieth, Thomas, Berger and Ollie Schniederjans, who still hasn’t won and no longer has a PGA Tour card. They were lined up according to birthdays in 1993 – Berger was the oldest by three weeks and a day over Thomas.

Spieth was the youngest. They all were 21. Spieth had just crossed $9 million in career earnings, and he would earn $20 million that year in prize money and a FedEx Cup bonus.

Berger was never the first to be mentioned from that high school class, and he still isn’t. But then, he is used to being overlooked and that doesn’t bother him.

“I think a lot of the guys that they give credit to deserve credit,” Berger said. “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. You look at some of the other guys and what they have accomplished, I’m kind of right in line with that.

“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,” he said. “But that’s something that every day I wake up and I strive for.”

He is playing next week at Riviera, a field that boasts nine of the top 10 in the world. It’s another chance to make a name for himself.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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