PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA – As he stood in the water with his pants rolled up and rain jacket on, Daniel Berger wanted to be the hero.
“I hit a pretty good drive and it just kind of took the wind and bounced in the hazard,” he said. “You know, it was one of those situations where you’ve just kind of got to go for it.”
Maybe not. His ball was partially submerged in the hazard to the left of PGA National’s sixth fairway and he had a strong first round going with just four holes left Thursday at the Honda Classic. Common sense prevailed.
Rain jacket on ✅
Pants rolled up ✅
Shoes off ✅
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 22, 2018
“At first I had an 8-iron trying to go for the green and when I was standing over it, I realized it wasn’t the best decision,” the two-time Tour winner said. “So just laid up to a good number and hit a good wedge shot and good putt and came away with a 4.”
It easily could have been a double bogey on the par-4 hole.
“It was kind of a momentum-changer to continue my round,” he said.
Berger made a subsequent birdie on No. 8 and posted a bogey-free 67 while playing alongside Justin Thomas, who also shot 67 in the windswept conditions. Their scores put both on the first page of the leaderboard in the early going.
Berger, 24, lives in nearby Jupiter and went to Dwyer High School, no more than 10 minutes from PGA National. He lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington at the 2015 Honda Classic.
“I think any time you shoot a bogey-free round at PGA National, it’s extremely good,” he said. “I kept it together coming down the back nine and played really well. I haven’t played that well the last couple years after that playoff, so it’s nice to get a good round under my belt.”