Rich Berberian Jr. qualifies for PGA Championship in PPC title defense

By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: PGA

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | 8:22 p.m.

SUNRIVER, Oregon -- Defending PGA Professional Champion Rich Berberian Jr. looked well on his way to putting up a fight for his second consecutive title.

Things unraveled for the 29-year-old PGA Director of Instruction at Vesper Country Club in Tyngsborough, Mass., in the middle of Round 3, however, when he had a three-hole stretch beginning at No. 7 that went bogey-quadruple bogey-bogey.

He would make one more birdie, but bogeyed his final two holes of the day to finish with a 6-over 78 that put him at even par for the tournament.

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Berberian chalked up the big number to trying to be play aggressive in conditions at Crosswater where mistakes were magnified.

"I went out there on Tuesday thinking I needed to make birdies," Berberian admitted. "The course wasn't lending itself to that approach. In the long run, it hurt because I was too aggressive and my misses left me in bad spots and I putted pretty bad."

To his credit, Berberian pulled it together for the final round on Wednesday, shooting a 1-under 71 to finish the 50th PPC at 1-under 286 to punch his ticket to a second consecutive PGA Championship.

"This week was tough as the defending champion," Berberian said. "I didn't really know what to expect. I can't really say I'd been playing good or bad, but just having everybody's eyes on me for a week was a lot. I'd rather be somebody nobody knows and play good. But to hang in there after what happened on Tuesday and to make it to another major is all I could ask for."

After the experience at Baltusrol in the 2016 PGA Championship, along with making the cut in two PGA Tour events, Berberian believes he'll be a little more prepared for Quail Hollow in the "what to expect" department.

"Those experiences should help me for sure," he said. "I try to learn as much as I can from every event, every tournament, even if it's just messing around with my buddies. There's always something to learn and to get better at. It's going to be a hit or miss kind of week. You want to play well because it's a major, but it's going to be tough. If something good happens it happens, if it doesn't, it doesn't." 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.