Following Honda WD, Daniel Berger rolls on opening day of WGC-Match Play

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AUSTIN, Texas – For Daniel Berger, it was more than just standard withdrawal. The Honda Classic is a home game for the South Florida native, so he didn’t take his decision to skip the event lightly, but he had a plan.

“This is the first day in like over two weeks that it’s felt pretty close to perfect,” Berger said of his lingering left rib injury that prompted last week’s WD. “I think it was the right decision to not play last week, although it sucks obviously being my home event. But this is what I was hoping for, to take that five or six days off and come here ready to go feeling good.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

The reward for Berger, who estimated the injury is at about 90% healthy, was a convincing 6-and-4 victory over Erik van Rooyen on Day 1 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and an easier path to the weekend.

Berger took the lead with a birdie at No. 1 and never trailed, going 5 up at the turn and finishing the match on the 16th hole at 4 under for the day.

“I didn’t think it was an easy match,” he said. “Honestly, today I was a little nervous going to the first tee, which I haven’t been in a while. I’m not sure if it was the format or what the difference was, but, I mean, anybody can beat anybody out here.”