Golf

Local favorite Daniel Berger enjoys cheers at Honda Classic

Daniel Berger plays a shot during the first round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa - Champion Course on February 26, 2015 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Daniel Berger plays a shot during the first round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa - Champion Course on February 26, 2015 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Getty Images

Daniel Berger, a true South Floridian born in Plantation and now residing in Jupiter, did his hometown fans proud as they followed him on the course in the first round of the Honda Classic on Thursday.

But even Berger, who estimated he has played PGA National about 25 times, found the wind difficult to conquer, even though he finished in a tie for sixth.

Of his 2-under-par 68, he said, “It felt like a 59.” OK, knowledgeable golf fans will know that’s an exaggeration because the PGA Tour record is 59.

What wasn’t an exaggeration was Berger saying, “I played really well.”

Berger, 21, has a couple of top-10 finishes in 2015 but is still seeking his first PGA Tour win.

The hometown fans following him and cheering for him was something he savored during the round.

“It was amazing to have my friends and family watching me and cheering me on,” Berger said. “It’s unlike any other week I get to experience on the PGA Tour. It’s awesome.”

The key to his round, Berger said, was not making any bogeys. “I made some great par saves. Just kind of hung in there all day. I’m really proud of the way I battled out there.”

So were his followers, which consisted of parents, sisters, grandparents and numerous friends.

COMPTON IN HUNT

Miami’s Erik Compton, a Palmetto High graduate, shot a respectable 2-over-par 72 Thursday, but it was a struggle.

After finishing, an exhausted-looking Compton headed straight to the driving range.

“I’m going on adrenaline right now,” said Compton.

“Today, it is what it is,” he said. “I just need to hit a few shots to figure it out.

“I played horribly and shot 72. The short game saved me.”

CHIP SHOTS

▪ Last year’s winner, Russell Henley, shot a 3-over-par 73 in trying to defend his championship.

▪ Pay attention first-round leader Jim Herman. Since 2010, the only players to convert a lead or co-lead into an eventual Honda Classic championship were Dudley Hart (2000), Jesper Parnevik (2001) and Justin Leonard (2003).

▪ Rory McIlroy’s double-bogey start on the first hole Thursday was his worst start in a PGA Tour event since taking a triple-bogey 7 in the first round of the 2013 BMW Championship.

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