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Daniel Berger returns to PGA Tour feeling 'perfect' after two-year injury ordeal

Daniel Berger feels "perfect" heading into the PGA Tour's Florida Swing after what he describes as a two-year injury ordeal.

Berger tees it up at the Cognizant Classic in Palm Beach Gardens – a home tournament for the Plantation-born 30-year-old – in his fourth event since returning from a crippling back problem.

"I feel perfect now," Berger, the 2021 United States Ryder Cup player and four-time PGA Tour winner, said at a pre-tournament press conference.

"It's been a two-year ordeal. Here (in 2022) was essentially the start of when I started feeling the stuff in my back, and kind of the last half of the portion that I played in 2022 leading up to the US Open where I stopped playing, I never felt great.

"When you play a professional sport it's not like you always feel great, but I was in pain all the time.

"I got to a point where I was just like, this is just not worth playing. My everyday life sucks, and I'm just struggling to play a golf tournament."

Berger claimed two FedEx St Jude Classic titles and also won at the Charles Schwab Challenge and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, saying he looked at those trophies during his lay-off as a source of motivation to play again.

He rose to number 12 in the world and also made his mark at the majors with top-10 finishes at the Masters (tied 10th in 2016), US Open (tied sixth in 2018) and Open Championship (tied eighth in 2021).

But it has been a challenging road back for Berger, who has finished tied 28th at the Phoenix Open and tied 39th at the American Express this season, as well as missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I did not think it would be that long (out)," said Berger, now ranked 530 in the world.

"I think the thing was I was chasing the quick fix, like what's going to fix me tomorrow, and the reality is that's not how it works.

"It was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back. We don't really know, but you have to adjust and make changes.

"Once I figured out what works for me, you just stick to your process, and you do those things, and eventually you get better.

"It just took me a longer time. I didn't want to be one of those guys that came back too early and was hurt three months later.

"I wanted to feel 100 per cent and be able to do everything I wanted to do, and that's where I feel now."

World number two Rory McIlroy is in the field at PGA National seeking to improve on his tied 24th finish at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles two weeks ago.

The Northern Irishman is joined by Genesis winner Hideki Matsuyama, English pair Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick and defending champion Chris Kirk.

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