WASHINGTON (AFP) – Daniel Berger parred the first playoff hole yesterday to defeat Collin Morikawa and capture the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first US PGA event in three months after a coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
Berger went over the green with his approach at the par-4 17th in the playoff, chipped inches from the cup and tapped in, then watched Morikawa lip out from three feet on the left edge to deliver the emotional victory at Colonial Country Club.
It marked the biggest moment in Berger’s fightback from a left wrist injury that threatened his career.
“This is one of the greatest days of my life, from where I’ve been and where I’ve come from,” Berger said. “It has been a long year and a half. I’m happy to be here.”
The victory, which came with no spectators on the course, was the third career US PGA title for Berger, whose wins at the 2016 and 2017 St Jude Classics also came on the second weekend of June.
It was a level the 27-year-old Floridian feared he might not attain again after his injury.
“It’s just a range of emotions,” said Berger. “I’ve grinded so hard the last two months – just to be in this position. I’m glad all the hard work paid off.
“I came back stronger than I ever have before, and I wanted it more than I ever have before. It means more than it ever did before.”
Morikawa, who found the rough twice in the playoff before chipping to three feet, shook his head and said, “Just hit a bad putt.”
“It’s going to sting for a little bit,” he added. “But we’ll make it out and move on to next week.”
Morikawa also missed left on a birdie putt from just inside six feet at 18 to settle for a spot in the playoff.
Berger closed with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole in regulation to fire a four-under par 66 in the final round at Fort Worth, Texas, to match Morikawa after 72 holes on 15-under 265.
Britain’s Justin Rose and Americans Xander Schauffele, Jason Kokrak and Bryson DeChambeau shared third on 266 with US stars Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed another shot back.
In the final regulation holes, Morikawa made a stunning birdie putt from just inside 50 feet at the par-4 14th to match Schauffele for the lead at 15-under.