SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y – Daniel Berger got in while the getting was good Saturday morning at Shinnecock Hills.
Berger made the biggest move of the morning with a 4-under 66 in Round 3 of the U.S. Open. That’s tied for the low round of the tournament thus far and vaulted Berger to within seven shots of the lead at 3 over for the week.
Assuming the course is only going to get tougher for the afternoon wave, Berger will be watching and hoping to see some big numbers.
“I think if the lead is 4 under by the end of the day I still have a shot,” Berger said. “I think it’s just going to be really tough, but if you can go shoot another 3 or 4 under (Sunday), even par is going to be a great score.”
Berger came out hot with three birdies on the front nine and set the tone by sticking his approach to three feet on the nasty, 239-yard par-3 second hole. He added birdies at the par-4 fourth and par-4 sixth to go out in 3-under 35.
Berger had a chance at the low round of the week and was 5 under through 16, but he dropped a shot after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the par-3 17th.
The 25-year-old Florida State product made the 2017 U.S. Presidents Cup team but hasn’t lived up to expectations this season without a single top-10 finish in 15 starts. That’s a bit of a deceptive number – he has four top-15 finishes – but the two-time Tour winner hasn’t been able to get into contention on Sunday.
That could change in the second major of the year, but he’ll need the frontrunners to have a rough go in Round 3.
“I mean, this is why I practice and play, because I want to be in this position to have a chance to win golf tournaments,” Berger said. “It hasn’t necessarily gone my way this year, but I’ve done a lot of the right things, and it’s more about just letting it happen and not putting too much pressure on myself. Today I did that. I just went out there and played golf and added up the score at the end of the day, and it happened to be a good one.”
This is Berger’s fourth career U.S. Open start, one that’s shaping up to be his best since he finished T-28 in the 2014 installment at Pinehurst. He’s also in position to score his second top-10 finish at a major to go along with a T-10 at the 2016 Masters.
“There’s probably a little bit more pressure, but in a good way, not in a negative way,” Berger said. “More in an I’m excited to go play kind of way. … When you have a chance to win a golf tournament, it’s there. It’s what I look forward to.”