Daniel Berger will likely need three more days, as he experienced in the American Express season opener.
Berger, making his first PGA Tour start since missing the 2022 U.S. Open with a lower back injury, shot a 4-under 68 at the Pete Dye Stadium Course.
“Until this week, I was on the brink of being ready to play or not. Then, when the time was up, I could just rip the bandaid off and go out,” he said after the round. “Actually, I played pretty well today, which was good. I didn't really hit any bad shots.”
Berger told The Associated Press last May that he was diagnosed with a slight bulge in his lower disc and deep bone sensitivity, and was following a rehabilitation program created by Canadian professor Stuart McGill, an expert in spinal biomechanics. he said.
The 30-year-old said Thursday that he never had surgery, but that finding the right path to healing was a long process of trial and error.
“I don't know if you've ever had lower back pain, but you use your back for everything you do, so sitting and standing and doing all kinds of daily chores are the worst,” he says. He spoke to reporters in California. “Again, you find a diagnosis, you find a treatment, you know what to do. And in a weird way, the body finds a way to heal itself if you don't mess with it. That's the biggest key for me. was” “
Berger said he had hoped to play in the fall, but suffered a three-month setback that led to his return to the Amex, where he could score. He had six birdies and two bogeys in the first round and was six shots behind the 18-hole lead.
“Obviously this is a great place to start,” he said. “The conditions were good, there was no wind, and the greens were beautiful. So I thought, if there's any place to start the season, this is it.”
Although he returns with full tour status, he is ranked 664th in the world (down from 25th when he last played) and has not yet qualified for a major or national tournament.
Berger said he is starting from “ground zero” and is working with a new swing coach to prepare for his return. He also had to get used to a new normal, he added.
“No more going out at 9 a.m. and swinging 120 degrees.” [mph]. It’s a rehabilitation process of getting out there early, doing what you need to do, and getting ready to go,” he said.
But Berger, who has only played 10 rounds in the past six months and hasn't played in a tour event in 19 months, is grateful. He also wishes he could be active.
“I was used to boating, playing tennis, beach volleyball, running, working out, and I've always been a very outgoing person. Those things were taken away from me. ” he said.
“When that happens, it's difficult and you have to find a way to stay inside yourself and be okay with not being able to do things. That was the hardest part. But getting out there As I started to get myself back together, I started to look more like Daniel than I did a year ago.”