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Daniel Berger set to play U.S. Open final qualifying after nearly a year off due to injury


After more than 300 days, Daniel Berger is returning to competition.

The four-time PGA Tour winner is planning to tee it up in U.S. Open final qualifying at Pine Tree Golf Club in Boynton Beach, Florida, on June 5. He has a 7:35 a.m. ET tee time to start the 36-hole event.

The last time Berger, 30, played competitively was in the second round of the 2022 U.S. Open at Brookline. He shot a 75 to miss the cut by two strokes.

A back injury then forced him to shelve his clubs — and he’s since fallen from 25th to 136th in the world rankings.

Berger was coming off a Ryder Cup nod in 2021 and decided to take time off after a taxing year. During his hiatus from golf, however, severe pain in his lower back began to surface for the first time in his life. And when he started the season at Kapalua, something was off.

He played through it, though, making 12 starts in 2022. He had to withdraw from his title defense at Pebble Beach, but a month later, he nearly won the Honda Classic in March, blowing a five-shot, final-round lead.

Then, after the U.S. Open, he shut it down.

“There was a point that I would have given up golf for the rest of my life not to feel like that,” Berger recently told the Associated Press.

“I was taking two ice baths a day to get on the course.”

At first, doctors struggled to diagnose his injury. But eventually, former world No. 1 Luke Donald helped him get in touch with a doctor that detected a slight bulge in a lower disc and deep bone sensitivity.

In the past few months, Berger has started to see progress.

“It doesn’t feel perfect, but I know it’s not career-ending,” he told the AP.

Now, after a long road back, Berger is ready to launch his comeback campaign at final qualifying near his hometown, hoping to find a way into this year’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

And he’s looking forward to the task at hand.

“When I took time off, I was a top-20 player,” he said. “I’ll be coming back with nothing. I get it — it’s part of the game. You’ve got to earn everything. When I come back, I’ll come back with fire in my belly.

“I’ll enjoy the challenge of getting back to where I was.”