MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year didn’t have the wide-eyed look of someone about to sleep on his first 54-hole lead, but then again Daniel Berger doesn’t lack confidence.
Despite his most taxing round this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Berger remained three strokes clear of the field with a third-round 69 on Saturday.
Berger bogeyed the fifth hole, his first miscue in 24 holes, and opened the door when his tee shot at the 14th hole found a water hazard on his way to a double bogey-5.
Moments earlier, Phil Mickelson had birdied the 16th hole to grab a share of the lead at 8 under, but Berger birdied No. 16 and chipped in for birdie at No. 17 to rebuild his three-shot cushion.
“It wasn't in the best spot, but I just picked my spot on the green and hit it and it went in and it was a nice way to kind of rebound off of that double on the par 3,” said Berger, who finished runner-up twice last season and is looking for his first Tour title. “I just am excited to grind it out and play a solid round today.”
Just don’t expect the 23-year-old to be intimidated on Sunday with Mickelson looming. In fact, Berger seemed to be looking forward to his showdown with Lefty.
“I like to call Phil, Philip. He says only his wife calls him that. I can't call him that until I win on the PGA Tour,” Berger smiled. “But I still call him that anyway. I don't care. It is what it is.”