SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Coming off the best year of his burgeoning career, Daniel Berger admits that it has taken some time to adjust his expectations.
Berger successfully defended his title at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, then lost a memorable playoff to Jordan Spieth a few weeks later at the Travelers Championship. He made the Tour Championship, starred on his first-ever Presidents Cup team and steadily climbed up the world rankings.
But even after opening the new year with a pair of top-15 finishes in Hawaii, Berger found himself making some mental tweaks heading into this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“(This season) hasn’t been quite what I really wanted it to be,” Berger said. “I think the expectations from the last couple years were pretty high, so just trying to maintain a lower expectation and just kind of have fun and play well, and that’s kind of what happened this week.”
The plan has been put to great use through 36 holes at TPC Scottsdale, where Berger took the clubhouse lead after rounds of 68-65. It continues his run of success on the Stadium Course that includes a T-10 finish in his tournament debut in 2015 and a T-7 finish last year.
Berger didn’t drop a shot during the second round, closing with a 20-foot birdie on No. 18 to tie Scott Stallings and Adam Hadwin for the lowest score of the morning wave.
“I know how well I can play,” he said. “So when you see that, you want to be in contention every week. Sometimes you put a little extra pressure on yourself, so just kind of going out there and just having fun has really been the key for me.”