Other than skill, the biggest difference between the tour players and amateur hacks like us might be the fact that when they hit a wayward shot, they have crowds of people helping them find their golf ball. And sometimes, they're even willing to pay.
That's what happened during the second round of the BMW Championship when Daniel Berger hooked one into the native area on the par-5 14th. But despite volunteers, fans, and even a bribe, the PGA Tour rookie was unable to locate his ball.
"Yeah, we had plenty of people definitely helping us look. We had probably 25 people. At one point I offered the crowd $500 if they could find it. Seriously, I did. I said, $500 if you find this ball. I don't know, maybe they don't like money. But we found like -- we probably found 20 balls. If we had probably 10 more minutes I'm sure we would have found it. But it is what it is."
Berger had to re-tee and he avoided disaster by making birdie with his second ball for a bogey six on a hole he birdied in every other round. Fortunately for the 22-year-old Florida State product, it didn't wind up costing him anything other than the ball. He still wound up in solo second place by a shot (hello, check for $891,000) and made the biggest jump in the FedEx Cup standings, moving from 46th to ninth to earn a first trip to this week's Tour Championship. And he didn't even have to shill out that $500!
"They do a great job, but sometimes they can't see everything," he said of the volunteers. "I mean, it was a bad swing. I didn't deserve to find that ball."
Berger's finish is part of a remarkable turnaround that's kept his season going and now puts him in the conversation for rookie of the year as the only first-year player to advance to East Lake. Before a T-12 last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Berger had missed seven consecutive cuts and broken par just twice in 14 rounds. What's been the difference in these past two starts?
"Honestly, I'm playing the exact same way I did three weeks ago," he said. "I'm just -- a few putts start to fall and you get a little bit of confidence, it can really go a long way."
The stats seem to back that up. Through the Barclays, Berger ranked 149th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained/putting, losing .187 strokes to the field per round. In the past two FedEx Cup events, he's finished 10th and sixth in that stat.
Now the real question is, if he keeps this up and has a shot to win the whole thing in Atlanta, how much will he offer fans for a little help?