5 surprising things I learned interviewing Daniel Berger
How many players have been better than Daniel Berger in 2020? It’s a short list, that’s for sure. Maybe Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa.
That’s it, though. That’s the list. Berger was good before the pandemic stopped the PGA Tour in its tracks, and he’s been great since the Tour came back. It’s worth remembering, he started 2020 outside the top 150 in the world. Now he’s ranked 14th.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Berger just days after the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, where he put together yet another top 15 finish. Ho-hum at that point. He wasn’t sure when he’d play next, how much he’d play this fall, etc. But he was sure of a few things during our sit-down, notably that you should STOP HITTING STINGERS AT RANGE PICKERS. (More on that here.) Here are five surprising things you may not have known about @DB_StraitVibin.
1. Technically, he’s starting to feel old
Berger’s generation of players splashed onto the scene in 2015. Spieth, Thomas, Xander, Grillo, etc. No full names needed. Berger even won Rookie of the Year in 2015. They were the “Class of 2011” and they were the up-and-comers. They are up-and-coming no longer!
Berger talked about the new generation of pros like Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, and Collin Morikawa like he’s in his mid-30s. Berger is really just 27, but he seems like a 10-year vet. That’s what Morikawa winning a major will do to you.
2. He may seriously never leave Florida
Berger was born in Plantation, Fla., moved to Key Biscayne, then to Jupiter, went to college at Florida State, etc. He’s the Sunshine State guy. And he has no plans to leave. As co-hosts from Wisconsin and Massachusetts, we felt obligated to press him for an explanation, but really he just knows where he feels comfortable. Also, there’s this truism: “I think I’ve seen snow twice in my life,” he said. Fair enough, DB.
3. He’s comfortable talking about the bad thoughts
As discussed, Berger went through a rough period with his game over the last few years. He bottomed out outside of the top 150 in the world, and has since had one helluva ride back into the top 15. He changed coaches to Cameron McCormick, and he says that has inspired his great form, particularly in the short game and on the greens. But, a coaching change brings along with it a new perspective, and plenty of thoughts. More thoughts aren’t always good, he said.
“Some of the hardest things for a professional golfer to deal with,” Berger says, “is once you open these doors of information, can you close them? It’s a challenge.” If that isn’t relatable, I don’t know what is.
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4. He was on a heater during quarantine
Like Tyrrell Hatton and Bryson DeChambeau, Berger was playing great golf before the pandemic shut down the PGA Tour. It was anyone’s guess who would play well after the Tour pressed reset. Thankfully for Berger, the great form just continued, and continued, and continued. There was no break.
He shot a 61 at The Bear’s Club the week before the Colonial restart. That’s “pretty good vibes,” as he said, before things got started again. He also carded a sum of 30- or 40-under during a six-round stretch prior to the restart. So, in other words, you did not want to face off with Berger in May 2020. He was going to take your money.
5. He taught himself how to go SUPER low
A common theme that pro golfers point to in the difference between those who make it on the PGA Tour and those who don’t quite get it done, is irrational confidence. You can’t be afraid to go low. And then even lower than that. Berger knows it very well, and he taught himself that mindset at a young age. “I had to piss myself off when I was five or six under,” Berger said. “Like ‘F-this, I want to be eight under.'”
We love that. Berger said establishing and keeping that mindset is all about scoring. Convincing yourself that there are six or eight birdies out there waiting for you. Like others have implemented in their upbringing, Berger used to play from the forward tees on occasion to give himself all types of looks at the same golf holes. A birdie is a birdie, go and get it. We can totally get behind that.
For more from Berger and your two favorite hosts of the Drop Zone, check out the full episode below.