Berganio Has His Head in the Game


Who’s writing this stuff? You have to file under fiction Thursday’s first round of the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where the leader is a guy who hired a brain coach to prevent meltdowns and the guy tied for second is a 46-year-old beer truck driver from Barstow playing in his first PGA Tour event.

Then there is the saga of Tiger Woods’ left knee, for 24 hours the most discussed joint in professional golf and so very painful that Woods dragged it around Spyglass Hill on his way to shooting a six-under-par 66.

“You just go out and play, whether you are sick or hurt,” Woods said. “Some days you play better than others.”


Obviously. All in all, opening day was about as quirky as you’re ever going to find out here in sea otter territory. David Berganio Jr., the 32-year-old from Sylmar, has spent more time off the PGA Tour than on it, but his eight-under 64 at Spyglass tied the course record.

That had to be good news for Berganio’s brain coach, Alan Jaeger of Sherman Oaks, the sports psychologist he brought on board a couple of months ago to soothe his perpetually frayed nerve endings. Problem was, bad shots stayed with Berganio, even when he wanted to dump them as quickly as he could.

The world is a beautiful place right now, Berganio said.

“I just tried to keep my mind clear,” he said. “I think that’s what hurt me in the past.”

Now if he can only start working on his memory. Berganio couldn’t rent a car at the airport because he forgot to renew his driver’s license before its expiration date.

But on an eight-birdie, no-bogey day at Spyglass, Berganio had no trouble remembering how to score. He even chipped in from 30 feet to save par at No. 8, his 17th hole. Berganio’s only birdie putt longer than eight feet was the 20-footer he made at No. 3, his 12th hole.

Tommy Armour III shot a 65 at Poppy Hills and he is one shot behind Berganio, tied with beer truck driver Mark Johnson, who also played at Poppy Hills.

A Monday qualifier, Johnson is a rookie this year on the Tour, but he has only conditional status, which means he probably will have to qualify on Mondays for those events too.


Johnson has driven a truck for Anheuser Busch since 1980, delivering more than 600 cases of beer a day on his 300-mile round trip from the distributorship in Barstow. When he chases the mini-tours in the summer, other truck drivers take his loads of beer.

Johnson won the 1996 California Amateur title at Pebble Beach, turned pro in 1998 and played the Canadian Tour last year, but he says he is gearing toward the Senior PGA Tour when he turns 50 in May 2004.

“I’m kind of old,” Johnson said. “They call me the Old Man.”

There weren’t many feeling too old Thursday when 89 golfers in the field of 180 pros broke par.

Clearly, it was a good day to wreck the courses. At Poppy Hills and Spyglass Hill, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls. Pebble Beach was the only place where there was any wind, and it was only an occasional gentle breeze.

“If you were ever going to catch Spyglass asleep, today was the day,” Berganio said.

Meanwhile, Woods toured the place in his typical rock-star fashion. One day after he hyperextended his left knee when a fan ran into him, Woods birdied the last three holes. He played his round under the watchful eye of two Monterey County sheriff’s deputies, who were joined by two more when he left the 18th green at Spyglass.

Law enforcement officials said later that they knew the identity of the autograph hunter who caused the incident Wednesday after a practice round when Woods stepped on the man’s ankle. The fan was not charged, the law enforcement officials said, but he was advised to avoid further contact with players.


Woods wore a brace on his knee in the morning but removed it before he got to the driving range. After his round, Woods said he knew as early as Wednesday night that he would be able to play Thursday morning.

“It felt sore, yes, but when it’s time to play, it’s time to play,” he said. “A friend of mine told me there’s a difference between pain and injury. I was just in pain.”

Woods said there was no breakdown in security that led to the accident.

“It’s just the one freak incident,” he said. “Some guy just got aggressive. It’s going to happen. One of the great things about our sport is the intimacy between the players and the fans. You want to keep that, but you never want to cross the line where the players are vulnerable.

“The fans are great; unfortunately, that one gentleman got a little aggressive and it has caused me a little bit of pain.”

Tied with Woods at 66 are Brad Elder, Vijay Singh and Edward Fryatt. There were 34 players who shot in the 60s.

Berganio said he was not surprised that Woods was able to play.

“No, I mean, he’s Tiger Woods,” Berganio said. “They are all going to talk about him whether he has a hangnail or a hyperextended knee; you know, he’s going to recover overnight. I knew he would.”


Fine, but if Berganio also knew a beer truck driver would be only one shot behind, then he brings clairvoyance to a new level.



Par 72


32-32--64: -8


34-31--65: -7


32-33--65: -7


35-31--66: -6


33-33--66: -6


32-34--66: -6


34-32--66: -6