Firsts prove fun for Berger at U.S. Open
Thursday, June 12, 2014
PINEHURST, N.C. – My new business is James Achenbach Public Relations.
My motto: Never mind the facts, I can make anybody look good.
My first client is playing here at the U.S. Open. My services are provided pro bono (I stole that term from my lawyer friends) because the job is easy when you don't have to tell any lies. This guy is as pure as the sand at Augusta National.
Meet Daniel Berger, a former Florida State University golfer who is 21 and participating in his first U.S. Open. Berger hit 14 greens in regulation and shot 72 at Pinehurst No. 2 in the championship's first round, although such statistics stand in the way of history.
What Berger accomplished in the first round is worthy of a scrapbook. Here's what I mean:
- At exactly 6:45 in the morning, he was the first player off the 1st tee. For the record, the first player off the 10th was a few seconds behind.
- When his opening shot found the fairway, Berger became the first golfer to hit a fairway in the 2014 U.S. Open.
- Because he hit 4-iron off the tee on the par-4, 402-yard 1st hole, Berger was slightly shorter than his playing partners. This allowed him to become the first player to hit a green in regulation.
- If all that weren't enough, he birdied the par-4, 507-yard 2nd hole to post the first birdie of this U.S. Open.
To do what I did – figuring out all these firsts for Berger – it was necessary to enlist the help of a friend. We precisely coordinated our watches. I noted all appropriate times on the front nine, while he took the back nine. This allowed us to deal with the double-tee start off 1 and 10.
Berger definitely made the first birdie in the championship. Even though the 10th hole is a par-5, nobody in the lead group birdied the hole. Thus Berger's birdie on 2 became the initial entry on the birdie list.
Berger, who plays on the Web.com Tour and works with instructor Jeff Leishman at Jupiter Dunes Golf Course in Jupiter, Fla., was 1-under-par after 13 holes before making three bogeys in the final five holes. His opening 72 was 2-over-par.
"Because it's the U.S. Open, I'm not going to get upset," Berger said. "Sometimes bogeys are good scores."
For a guy with a reputation for intense behavior, Berger appeared remarkably level-headed.
"I hit the ball great today, but to be a contender in the U.S. Open you need to think clearly and have a strategy," he said.
The only gremlin to invade his game plan was his putter, He totaled 34 putts, including two 3-putts.
"I need to work on my (putting) speed," admitted Berger, who is a member of the TaylorMade touring staff and uses a Titleist Pro V1x ball.
Golf aside, I would like to tell Matt Kuchar to make room for a new contender for the title of best ping-pong player on the PGA Tour.
When Berger makes it to the big Tour, he will bring with him an explosive ping-pong game that includes a two-handed backhand.
While two-handed backhands are common in tennis, they are considered radical in ping-pong.
Perhaps Berger acquired his racquet skills through heredity. His father, Jay Berger, is head of men's tennis for the United States Tennis Association. He played professionally for five years and once was ranked No. 7 in the world.
"He never put any pressure on me to play tennis," Berger related. "I started taking golf lessons at 11 and fell in love with the game."
Who knew the first guy off the first tee in the U.S. Open would be a publicist's dream. By the way, the regular rate at James Achenbach Public Relations is $300 per hour.