DADE CITY, FL – Daniel Berger blew a golden opportunity to take home his first collegiate title here on Tuesday, but he wasn’t going to place blame on anybody but himself.
The 19-year-old sophomore will use his final round 73 as a learning experience.
“I need to work a little bit harder on my short game,” said Berger, standing off the 18th green just minutes after he finished tied for second in the University of South Florida Invitational at scenic Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club.
“It’s a good learning experience and we have a tournament in two weeks so I’ll take [what I learned] there.”
Berger clearly has game, tying Dykes Harbin, of South Carolina with a three-round total of 211, five-under par.
It was Berger’s fourth top-five finish of the season.
He was in contention through most of the final round until a bad stretch of holes from 14 to 16 cost him the opportunity to dethrone eventual champion Albin Choi, of North Carolina State.
“It was pretty much a dogfight the entire back nine. It was a pressure-filled back nine for sure.” Choi said. “I definitely felt a little something there but glad I got out with the win.”
Berger bogeyed 14 and 15 before having to scramble for a par on 16. He hit a wonderful recovery shot out of the hazard there to stay in contention, but the mountain was too tall to climb.
An interesting note about Berger is his demeanour on the course. He is focused everywhere, always walking around with the proverbial ‘game face.’
But he does have one quirk.
“Rather than be on my feet between shots I might as well sit down and relax,” he says, with a laugh.
Berger says he hopes to make it on the PGA Tour one day.
“That’s my main goal, everything I do from here on out is to make it on the PGA Tour.”
Helping towards that goal is his chance to play against Tour competitors at his home club in Jupiter, Florida.
“I play with PGA Tour players a lot, I just don’t have a favourite player. My Dad is my main inspiration,” Berger said, after an embrace from his father at the scoring tent. He will turn to his father for guidance moving forward.
One thing he did emphasize was the importance of how to prepare and practice for his next tournament, the Seminole Intercollegiate in Tallahassee, Florida, hosted by Florida State.
The brightest point of the day for Berger was the recovery shot he hit on 16 out of the hazard, he holed his putt for par to stay within two of Choi.
“You have to keep playing the course no matter where you are.
That’s one of my strengths, getting up and down from some sketchy spots is part of golf.”