Jack Nicklaus joined the Honda Classic’s NBC broadcast on Sunday and said how during his career, he wasn’t too fond of starting final rounds with a big lead.
Daniel Berger, after his Sunday at PGA National, may now feel the same.
The four-time Tour winner fired back-to-back 65s on Days 1 and 2 and rode a third-round 69 to a five-shot lead over Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka, but that evaporated in a flash in the final round. After a bunker blunder led to a double bogey on No. 3, the lead was down to one. And the gap would completely close after consecutive bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 put him at 4 over for his first six holes.
“I did a really good job the first three days of not short-siding myself, and then as the day went on today I hit a lot of shots that were just in some horrible spots,” Berger said after his final-round 74. “Just couldn’t get up and down. Unless you made a 20-footer, it wasn’t going to be a par. Yeah, that’s the way golf goes.”
Full-field scores from The Honda Classic
Berger’s struggles can be attributed to his putting. In Round 4, he was second-to-last in the field in strokes gained: putting, averaging -3.807. He made only two putts longer than 3 feet and nothing longer than 7 feet. Through 15 holes, the world’s 21st-ranked player only made 16 feet of putts.
“Just a poor round,” he said. “It can happen at any time. I’m not going to dwell on it too much. Just didn’t hit quality shots at the right time. Probably would’ve had a chance to win if I made a few more putts.
“I don’t think I made a single putt today. I don’t know what happened. Just didn’t feel good over the putter today.”
If Berger, a Jupiter, Florida, native, had made more putts he may have emerged victorious in his hometown tournament. But despite faltering, the 28-year-old said he’ll use this Sunday as a learning experience.
However, contrary to the Golden Bear, Berger doesn’t believe his 4-over final round is a product of him being too comfortable with his substantial 54-hole lead.
“I felt fine today,” he said. “Honestly, I warmed up well and I felt good. I just didn’t make that many putts, or any putts. And if you don’t make putts you’re not going to shoot a good score. That’s what happened today.”