By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - Some of golf's biggest names were crammed on the final-round leaderboard at Colonial Country Club on Sunday but in the end it was unheralded Daniel Berger who walked away with the winner's plaid jacket.
Berger was one of the hottest golfers on the PGA Tour before action was halted in March because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but was still flying under the radar as he faced up against a slew of the game's best players at Colonial.
"I'm glad no one talks about it, because it's definitely harder to go out there and win when you're worried about it," Berger said after winning a playoff on the first extra hole.
"There was so many times today where I could have given it up or let the pressure get to me, but I hung in there and I played practically some of the best golf I've played the last six years the last five holes today."
Among the 14 players who were separated by three shots to start the final round were world number one Rory McIlroy, three-times major champion Jordan Spieth, Britain's Justin Rose, world number four Justin Thomas, former Masters winner Patrick Reed and reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland.
But Berger, who had top-10 finishes in his three starts prior to this week, carded a four-under-par 66 to reach 15 under for the week and won the playoff after fellow American Collin Morikawa's par putt from in close lipped out.
"You just never really know if you're going to be in the same position again," said Berger.
"So to be able to come out here and beat so many of the best players in the world, you look at the field that was out here this week, and I don't have a stellar playoff record, so to show up here and obviously I didn't want to win it like that, but sometimes that's just the way golf works."
The win was Berger's third on the PGA Tour and against such a loaded field it assured he will not fly under the radar at next week's RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
"I'm just so proud of the way that I battled today and proud of how much work I've put in over the last couple weeks and even in the last year," said Berger, whose 28 consecutive scores of par or better is the longest active streak on the PGA Tour.
"It's finally paying off, so I'm just really excited."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)