Thursday, 23 May, 2019

Oosthuizen one shot off leader Garcia at Nedbank Challenge

South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen South African Erik Van Rooyen can start fast
Cary Erickson | 10 November, 2018, 17:40

Sergio Garcia flew into a four-shot lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge after an eight-under 64 on Thursday (Friday NZT) secured the biggest first-round advantage on the European Tour for a year.

Garcia's birdies came on the first, on four out of five holes from the seventh, and then on three of the last four. Oosthuizen, who is from South Africa, has never won his country's most prestigious tournament.

McIlroy, without a European Tour win this season, needs at least one victory in the next two weeks to have a chance of being crowned Europe's No 1 for a fourth time.

Mikko Korhonen (70) was third at 6 under, two behind Oosthuizen and three off the lead.

Having surged four clear on Thursday, Sergio Garcia's progress was checked by a hard day at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

A spectacular 18th where the ball circled the hole and rolled back out for a bogey summed up a frustrated round for Garcia.

Oosthuizen looked to be struggling after a double-bogey on the eighth hole saw him turn at one under-par for the round.

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The Dubliner felt his back go as he practised at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona yesterday and may not be able to join Tramore's Robin Dawson and Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin at the Lakes Course for today's first round of the six-round race to finish in the top 25 and ties.

"This sort of round does not happen very often, I was very fortunate", said the 38-year-old Spanish victor of the 2017 Masters after his bogey-free round. Also in that group is Lee Westwood (69), a two-time victor at Sun City.

The South African also birdied the 15th to get briefly within two, only for Garcia to bounce back from another three-putt at the 13th to convert from close range at the next to get to 11 under.

Former Masters champion Garcia, 38, is on 10 under after his one-under par 71, with South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen remaining on eight under after his 72.

But after driving into the trees on the 15th, the Englishman took six shots to reach the green and then three-putted for a nine.

McIlroy's front nine was promising with three birdies offset by just a single bogey, at the par-four third when his ball plugged just below the lip of a greenside bunker.