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June 17, 2020

Daniel Berger

Hilton Head, South Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started. We'd like to welcome Daniel Berger into the interview room. He is making his third career start at the RBC Heritage, and he had a T-33 last year for his best finish here at Harbour Town.

Comments on being back here at the Heritage?

DANIEL BERGER: This is exciting. Last year I got off to a good start the first couple days and didn't play great on the weekend. But I feel like I figured out something last year with the golf course. I'm excited to be back. I know that it's a course that fits my eye. Obviously, with the Bermuda style greens and fairways and rough, it's something that I look forward to.

THE MODERATOR: And just a few days removed from stepping back into the PGA TOUR winners circle. Just talk a little bit about what that meant to you to win that again, especially with all you've been through with injuries.

DANIEL BERGER: Yeah, it was really exciting. I worked super hard in, I would say, the last two years to get to this point. A lot of things happened in that time span, but overall, it's just you kind of envision being on the podium holding a trophy, and then for it to finally happen feels amazing.

THE MODERATOR: Let's go right into questions.

Q. Quick question, and what struck me today was not having anybody around. I don't know how much you've been on the course at all. You saw it last week. What do you think it will be like this week? And mainly, the timing on the calendar, where this has always been such a big exhale coming off the Masters, and now for a lot of players, there's a sense of urgency with the season coming to a close. How do you balance those two?
DANIEL BERGER: It is definitely different because the fuel, I think, over the years has changed because of the fact that it was after Augusta and a lot of the guys are coming off that high from Augusta and don't tend to play this week. The field's stacked this week again. So many of the best players in the world are playing.

But I think a big difference is going to be the grass. I think typically it's overseeded, if I'm not mistaken, and now it's this Bermuda, which if you've seen anything around the greens, it's the grainiest I think I've ever seen it in my life. So that's going to be a big influence for players. I think you're going to see a lot of guys struggle with chipping.

But there's so many big events coming up here in such a short amount of time. I think guys are going to have figure out what they want to play because you just can't play every week. Some guys that didn't play as much in the beginning, like you look at a guy like Brooks, who maybe didn't play as much, whether it was because of his knee injury or what it is, maybe now feels a little more pressure, stress to play. I talked to him, and I think he's going to be playing a bunch over the next three, four, five weeks in a row. So I think a lot of guys are going to have to figure out what their schedule is going forward.

For me, I was in a good position before I got to last week, and obviously even in a better position now. So I can look to kind of pick and choose which events I want to play in more now.

Q. I was curious about that. Did winning change your schedule?
DANIEL BERGER: A hundred percent. Like I wasn't into Memphis, which I played well at before. Obviously, I was a little higher in the world rankings, so I wasn't sure if I was going to be in all the majors -- U.S. Open, PGA Championship. Being 11th in the FedExCup now, it really changes my mindset to winning the FedExCup, not just making it into the TOUR Championship. So I'm in a great position, and I'm playing great golf. In the end, I just need to continue doing what I'm doing.

Q. Lastly, just to keep John from calling on me again, is it at all weird to win and get into the Masters, but just not the next Masters?
DANIEL BERGER: I was asking my agent about that. I was like, am I in the Masters? Am I not in the Masters? I guess I'm not in this Masters, but he said, you go out and win a couple more times, and it would be hard for them not to invite you. So I guess I got that going for me.

Q. Daniel, what was it like -- can you take me back to the very first time you got a lesson from Leishman. I understand you spent a lot of time working on your breathing. How did that type of focus on calmness and relaxation help you on Sunday?
DANIEL BERGER: I started working with Jeff 13 years ago. We don't work together anymore. We split up a couple months back. But he's been instrumental in my career. He's taught me so many things about myself that I don't think I would have learned otherwise.

Breathing is one of the things that we first started working on when I took a lesson with him, and I think it's something that I've carried throughout my entire career. Any of the big moments I've ever had, I've always focused on that breathing method that he taught me. Even in other situations, whether it be off the golf course or on the golf course, it's something that I've gone to more and more, and it's really helped me out. So I would say that it has been instrumental for me.

Q. Also, just what was the difference between -- did you feel, between having to take time off when you were injured versus having to take time off when the golf was shut down?
DANIEL BERGER: When I was injured, I couldn't play golf. When the time was shut down, I could play golf, I just didn't play golf.

Overall, I think Florida was one of the first states to kind of reopen and get things going. The weird thing was, I was members at courses in Martin County and Palm Beach County, and Palm Beach County was closed, but Martin County courses were open. So there were times during the whole quarantine where I was able to still play golf. I think a lot of people didn't have that opportunity.

That was nice for me. There's Turtle Creek right down the street where I'm a member at. It's literally 300 yards from my house. I'd get up in the morning, walk nine holes, and just kind of get the body moving and at least just have a rhythm for swinging the golf club, even if it wasn't competitive or I wasn't really focused necessarily on shooting scores. It was more about getting out there and feeling some familiarity with the game.

Q. Everybody talked last week going into not knowing exactly where their game was. I mean, everybody practiced, everyone had a chance to play and maybe be a little competitive. Now you've had some time to think about Sunday. Were you surprised at all that you were able to come out so sharp?
DANIEL BERGER: I wasn't surprised I was able to come out so sharp. I was more surprised that some of the other guys that were up at the top of the leaderboard faltered a little bit coming down the stretch. You know, I played great golf, but some things happened my way in order for me to be standing there as a champion.

I played a lot of competitive games at the Bear's Club before with guys like Keegan and Jamie Lovemark and Jon Curran and Cameron Tringale, and it was really competitive. I just think that continued on into the week of Charles Schwab. I think having the opportunity to stay sharp like that is what led to good performance when we got back. If I didn't have that opportunity, I don't know if I would have been as sharp coming back.

Q. If I can ask, was there any awkward moments when you won -- I know on the 19th green on Sunday. No high fives, no handshakes, no anything.
DANIEL BERGER: Yeah, it was definitely different. Like I didn't get someone to slip the jacket on me. I had to put it on myself, which I guess -- I mean, it's fine. I still got to put it on, but that was a little different. Everyone was standing six feet apart. They were pretty cautious on all their protocols and everything.

There was obviously no people there, which was the most interesting part. The other two times that I had won, you're getting the trophy and the awards ceremony, and there's a thousand people around. So it was very quaint, I would call it.

Q. Daniel, where do you think you are -- I know your dad kind of pushed this idea of 10,000 hours of practice into anything, any activity. Where do you think you are in that?
DANIEL BERGER: I'm probably closer to 50,000 hour range. I mean, if I had to guess. I don't know. Over the last ten years, imagine ten hours a day, that's a lot of hours of practice.

I think that -- what he was meaning by that is in order to become kind of elite at anything that you're doing, you've got to hit that 10,000-hour threshold, and I think once you get to that point, it's a little different because now I don't hit 5,000 golf balls like I did when I was 13 years old, where it's more about kind of repetition and basically grinding. I'm not saying that I don't grind now, but it's more about maintaining for me now.

Q. And what made you buy in to that?
DANIEL BERGER: Because it's your dad, and what your dad says, you believe.

Q. And just going back to what you said, the coaching change, am I right you're working with Cameron McCormick now?

Q. What was the reasoning behind the switch and stuff?
DANIEL BERGER: I had gone for almost a year and a half period where I didn't have a top ten, and I was just -- it was confusing. I didn't understand why I was doing the same things that I had been doing for years, but I wasn't getting the results. That's kind of where I had a talk with my team and figured out that I needed to kind of seek different advice, hear different opinions on my golf swing, on my golf game.

I had seen a lot of Cameron out on TOUR. I had spoken to Jordan about Cameron, and obviously he had great things to say. I just like the approach. He's very high energy. He's very matter of fact. He brought a lot of different techniques that I never was taught when I was younger, and it really improved my short game and my putting. Statistically, I wasn't the greatest around the greens, and I wasn't the greatest putter. In the last eight months that we've been working together or year that we've been working together, it's been a dramatic improvement in that area.

That's why I feel so confident with my game. I feel like I don't have to hit the ball great to score well because my short game can hold up, where in previous years, it was like, if I didn't putt or chip it good, I played bad. Now it's like I don't have to hit it good. I can chip and putt it good and still play well.

Q. What was the first tournament that you guys were working together?
DANIEL BERGER: The first tournament that we worked together was probably San Antonio last year. That would have been one of the first events that I saw him. I think I missed the cut that week, if that means anything.

THE MODERATOR: Daniel, we appreciate your time. Best of luck this week.


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