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Daniel Berger is back in the hunt

Sizzler: Berger started the day with four straight birdies.  

Daniel Berger returned from a layoff to shoot a superb six-under 66 in the first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on Thursday. Berger shared the lead with Abraham Ancer and Rory McIlroy.

American Berger, playing his first competitive round since the Ryder Cup in September, stated that he needed the break. “It’s probably the longest break I've had in my career. It was a little scary taking over a month off, but mentally and physically, I needed it,” Berger said.

Berger, the son of former Davis Cup tennis player Jay Berger, started the day with four straight birdies. McIlroy had an up and down day. He carded six birdies and an eagle, but slipped on the par-5 ninth with a shot into the water. He made up for it on the 14th, chipping in to get an eagle.

“I’m happy with how I responded on the back nine after that (shot into the water). I had a 5-under in the back nine,” McIlroy said.

On the mishit, McIlroy said, “I committed to the shot, but I just didn't make a great swing.”

For World No. 12 Ancer, it was all about riding a wave of confidence. Earlier this year, he took the 2021 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational title to become the fourth Mexican player to win on the PGA Tour and the first to win on the European Tour. Ancer believes that he belongs with the top guns.

“I feel that I've been able to improve my game every year. I feel I can compete in big events and majors,” Ancer said.

Justin Thomas held the lead briefly on seven-under, but a missed six-foot putt saw him make a double bogey on the 18th hole. Thomas played the round in sunglasses, having undergone LASIK surgery around 10 days ago.

Thomas, Webb Simpson and Brooks Koepka are tied fourth, one stroke behind.

The scores (top four): 66: Daniel Berger, Abraham Ancer, and Rory McIlroy; 67: Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, and Brooks Koepka.

(The writer is in Nassau at the invitation of Hero MotoCorp).

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 10:31:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/daniel-berger-is-back-in-the-hunt/article37831618.ece

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