Daniel Berger is no stranger to PGA National. The 21 year old PGA Tour rookie grew up in nearby Jupiter, played and worked out of the Dye Preserve, and went to high school at Dwyer.
At this point he has probably played there more than most of the pros that were in the field this week. But, when he made his run in the fourth round, erasing a nine shot deficit when the final round started Sunday, all everyone could do is just stop and watch.
Berger took on all the top guns ahead of him on the leaderboard and beat them. In fact, he beat everyone in the field except for one (champion Padraig Harrington), and he took Harrington to the second playoff hole before succumbing to a bad tee shot.
Berger shot a final round 64 over Sunday and Monday, the lowest round in the tournament over the four days. He took on a leaderboard consisting of Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed and some of the games greatest with no fear, and when he birdied his final hole of regulation he had the clubhouse lead at 6-under.
Harrington had to birdie 18 himself just to force the playoff with Berger and on the first hole Berger seemed to be well in position to take the tournament when he hit his approach shot well inside of Harrington's.
He missed his birdie putt and the two were off to the par 3 17th for the second playoff hole. That's when Berger hit his first true bad shot of the day. After Harrington hit his tee shot to within five feet, Berger hit his in the water.
“I might have rushed it a little bit,” Berger said of his fateful shot in the playoff. “If I had a second chance, I probably would have taken a little bit longer and just kind of composed myself, but it's one of those things that you learn. Like I said, next time I'll be better from it.”
Despite coming up just short, Berger has had a successful rookie season on Tour up to this point. He has finished in the top 25 in each of his last four events and has six top 25 finishes already this season.