From Injury Abyss to Myrtle Beach: Berger Brings Healthy Perspective to his Comeback

If you’ve played on the game’s grandest stages, helped win a Ryder Cup, and been ranked as high as 12th in world, all before the age of 30, a start in the Myrtle Beach Classic, as opposed to being at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo, might seem like a disappointment.

Unless you are Daniel Berger.

The Floridian entered the 2022 season as a four-time Tour champion, a Ryder Cup winner, and a young player with the look of a potential major champion.

He played well early in the year, recording three top 5 finishes, but by the time he missed the cut in the U.S. Open at Brookline, he needed a break to let a bulging disc in his back heal.

What no one could have imagined is that Berger would be away from the game for 19 months. In near debilitating pain, Berger didn’t touch a club for months and he didn’t make a start in 2023.

Being away from golf for that long provided a healthy dose of perspective (no pun intended), even when your peers are chasing major championships.

“You have to be grateful for being healthy,” Berger said of his appreciation for playing in Myrtle Beach and anywhere on Tour. “You look at what I went through and how miserable that was. If you said in [May] you would be 100 percent and playing golf, you probably wouldn’t be too disappointed. It’s about managing expectations and enjoying being back out here.”

Berger, who will tee off at 7:23 a.m. Thursday morning, will be up early, hitting the gym to make sure he is properly warmed before taking his first swings, but his game appears to be on the rise. Prior to playing at the American Express in January, Berger had played only a handful of rounds, so he knew a return to form would take time.

“Imagine taking two years off and then coming back trying to compete [at the highest level of the game],” he said. “It takes a little time to get back in the groove. You have to tell yourself to be patient.”

In first nine starts, Berger missed five cuts, but those results didn’t tell the full story. He was feeling progressively better physically, allowing him to practice more and swing the club unencumbered by the fear of re-injuring himself. The confidence that comes from quality practice and good health led to his best result of the year – T13th – at the CJ Cup last week.

Now, he is looking to continue the momentum at the Myrtle Beach Classic, and he likes the look of the challenge the Dunes Club will present.

“The course is great,” Berger said. “It’s one of the better courses we play on Tour, so it’s nice to come out and play something that is challenging and will really take full effort all the time.”
The Myrtle Beach Classic field, which includes 38 former PGA TOUR winners, is comprised of talented newcomers eager to make their mark and veterans looking to rediscover their form, and the 31-year-old Berger straddles both worlds.

“I’m used to playing in the premier groups and major championships and being [among] the top 20 players in the world,” Berger said. “Now I’m playing new courses, the whole feel is different but that is part of the game.”

With a good week in Myrtle Beach, Berger will be on his way back to the top of the golf world.

Where is the best place to watch the Myrtle Beach Classic?
The layout of the Dunes Club is spectator friendly, and the fan zone, which features a merchandise tent and several options if you are in search of a cold drink, will be a popular spot. Located between the 18th tee, 17th green and the first fairway, the fan zone will offer plenty of room and easy access to the action.

But if you are looking for the best spot to enjoy play, arrive early and post up on the right side of the par 3 17th tee. From there you will have a full view of what happens on 17, and you will be just yards from the 16th green, where there will be lots of fireworks. The 16th will be a short par 4 that should yield a lot of birdies. Throw in a distant view of the 11th green and there won’t be a better place to watch the action.

Odds and Ends: There are 14 South Carolinians playing in the inaugural Myrtle Beach Classic – Bill Haas (Greenville), Ben Martin (Greenville), Matt Atkins (North Augusta), D.J. Trahan (Kiawah Island), William McGirt (Bluffton), Tommy Gainey (Hartsville), Richy Werenski (Aiken), Jacob Bridgeman (Inman), Carson Young (Greenville), Matt NeSmith (Aiken), Kevin Kisner (Aiken), Wesley Bryan (Columbia), George Bryan (Columbia) and Morgan Deneen … Speaking of Bill Haas, his father, Jay, will be caddying for him this week. The Haas family has a home in Pawleys Island, but this will be Bill’s first time playing the Dunes Club. “I was excited to hear (the Tour was coming to Myrtle Beach), but I had never been here before Monday … Every player on the range is talking about how great they think it is, and this is the perfect showcase for South Carolina golf.”

(Photos for this feature from Daniel Berger’s Instagram Account)

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Dunes Golf & Beach Club

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