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SILVIS — Daniel Berger was not swinging a golf club at age 3 or 4 like most of the current young guns on the PGA Tour. He was not competing in junior tournaments before he was 10.

Berger, in fact, was almost a teenager before he picked up the game.

The 24-year-old from Plantation, Florida, has quickly ascended up the ranks of professional golf.

When the John Deere Classic tees off this morning at TPC Deere Run, Berger will be the highest-ranked player in the field of 156 at No. 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

“I’ve worked really hard to get where I am,” Berger said on the eve of the 47th annual PGA Tour event in the Quad-Cities. “I think if anything, I’ve been more under the radar than some of the other guys like Justin (Thomas) and Patrick Rodgers who have played in Tour events when they were younger.

“I didn’t start playing golf until I was 11 or 12. Once I started playing golf, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I spent hours, hours and hours at the range.”

Jordan Spieth has a couple major championship wins on his resume. Thomas has won a PGA Tour-best three times this season. Jon Rahm has a victory and has been a fixture on leaderboards.

Mix those names in with Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, it is easy for Berger to be overshadowed. 

“I kind of feel like I get forgotten a little bit, and I’m pretty good,” Berger said. “I’m just going to keep doing my thing.”

About a third of the winners on the PGA Tour this season are under the age of 25. Berger falls into that category. 

“You’re seeing the future right now with all these young players stepping forward,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. “You go to bed on Saturday night and look at our leaderboard, and you’ll find 12 to 20 guys that have a chance to win on Sunday.

“It is creating compelling finishes and storylines.”

With each season, Berger’s game and confidence continues to grow.

Berger turned pro after two seasons at Florida State. Named PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2015, Berger recorded six top-10 finishes in 31 starts.

Son of a professional tennis coach, Berger broke into the winner’s circle for the first time at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis last year, making three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to defeat Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Brooks Koepka.

Berger has not slowed down.

He has five top 10 finishes this season, including defending his title at the St. Jude and finishing runner-up to Jordan Spieth in a playoff at the Travelers Championship three weeks ago.

As a result, Berger has soared to ninth in the FedEx Cup and fourth in the U.S. President Cup standings.

“I feel like I’ve kind of made a name for myself the last few years and been at the top of the leaderboards a lot more often than I even thought when I first came out here,” Berger admitted.

The Presidents Cup, slated for late September in Jersey City, New Jersey, certainly is high on his goal list.

"I've set myself up to make that team," Berger said. "Obviously, it is not a done deal yet. If I continue to do what I'm doing, I'll be a tough person to beat if I make that team."

Berger said an equipment change at the beginning of the year has led to more consistent results. 

“I feel like I just really got dialed in and started to trust what I was using,” he said. “Now I’m starting to see the right feedback and I am starting to really trust my equipment, and that’s why I’m playing so well.”

Berger is at the JDC for the first time in his career.

Besides wanting to add an event to his schedule, Berger said he prefers playing a week before a major championship. He experimented with the Scottish Open two years ago, but admitted being in England two consecutive weeks was too long.

“I love coming to a golf course that I’ve never played at all because it kind of feels like your rookie year out here when you get to play,” Berger said. “I’m excited about this week.”

If history is any indication, TPC Deere Run could be up Berger’s alley. His best results have come on TPC courses.

In addition to his two wins at TPC Southwind, he was second at TPC River Highlands (Travelers) and seventh at TPC Scottsdale (Waste Management Open) this year.

This will be Berger’s first event since Spieth holed out from the bunker at 18 in a playoff at the Travelers three weeks ago.

“I’m like the most rested I’ve been in my three years on Tour,” Berger said. “I just feel like I’ve managed my schedule a lot better and I’m a lot more ready to go.”

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.