Daniel Berger in the Honda Classic at PGA National: Home boy using local knowledge

The 28-year-old is born and bred in South Florida and thrives on the chance to compete when sleeping in his own bed.

Daniel Berger has many reasons to think fondly of the Champion Course at PGA National and the Honda Classic.

Reason #1? Ease: "I'm a local, and any tournament that's 15 minutes from my house, I'll play in every year. I like sleeping in my own bed and making breakfast in my own kitchen. It's just real comfortable for me."

Reason #2? Memories: "I've grown up playing PGA National. A lot of my buddies play out here. It's fun to get back and see all my friends coming out to support me.

"We always used to sneak out here. We wouldn't pay the dues. We'd just grab a cart and go. I don't think they would like that but we did it anyway! Late afternoon, right at sunset, playing nine holes right before it got dark.

"I grew up playing golf with Steve Marino and he played in this tournament every year, so I would go out and watch him. It seemed like a really big stage when I was younger. It was pretty cool."

Reason #3? More memories: in his rookie year of 2015 he made the play off here, his first experience of the thin air of contending for a PGA Tour title, losing out to Padraig Harrington.

And reason #4: This is where he confirmed his return from injury two years ago.

That week he finished fourth here, soon after he'd landed top 10 finishes in the Phoenix Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. They were his first top 10s in a year and he'd only made two in the previous two and a half years.

"I don't think I've done anything different," he said of the turnaround. "I've just found a rhythm after my injury. I'm now able to practice when I want to, I'm able to set my schedule and play what tournaments I want to play. I didn't feel like I could do that last year just because of being hurt."

Leaving the event he said: "I feel good about my golf game."

The problem was that within days the Tour went into lockdown and it seemed that his good form would go to waste.

And yet nothing of the sort happened. He won the Charles Schwab Challenge in the first tournament back and the good results have continued to flow.

Since the start of 2020 he has landed 17 top 10 finishes in 39 starts, two of them wins; he started that run ranked 152nd in the world and is currently ranked 21st.

He missed the cut last time out and has been struggling with a back injury but, if that is clear, don't be surprised if he contends again this week.

Berger down the years on the Champion Course

"Living in South Florida, I play in the wind all the time. It's just comfortable for me out here. I feel right at home."

"The familiarity of PGA National, no matter how bad I'm playing coming into this week, I always somehow just turn it around and feel good."

"The golf course is really hard. I don't know many other events where 4-under is close to the lead after three days. It feels like a major championship toughness-wise."

"It's just extremely tough, and the greens are firm and fast. Anything under par is pretty good … but it's fair, and if you hit good shots, you can make birdies."

"Anything under-par the first couple days is good and then on the weekend things can change and maybe make a few more birdies. Really just hang in there as much as possible."

Berger on The Bear Trap

"If you're in contention and you can get through the Bear Trap at even-par or 1-under, then you're going to have a great chance to win. Like last year, I wasn't even sniffing a chance and you get the last three groups coming through there and they are all playing over-par and, next thing you know, you have a chance to win."

Berger at PGA National

He thrashed a final round 64 on debut in 2015 to force a play off with eventual winner Padraig Harrington, but missed the cut in the following two years.

He was in the top 10 all week in 2018 before falling to T29th with a Sunday 75 and was T36th a year later. Then in 2020 he added that tied fourth.

Berger in Florida

In addition to his success in Palm Beach Gardens he has added top 20 Florida finishes at Bay Hill, Innisbrook and TPC Sawgrass (twice). He's 18-for-19 at making the cut with a total of six top 20s, but only those two top fives in this event.

READ MORE: The Honda Classic: Bear Traps, Bermuda and breezes - who can conquer the first Florida Swing event?

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