Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Garcia sets pace at Sun City with faultless 64

McIlroy is aiming to win the Race to Dubai for the fourth time McIlroy is aiming to win the Race to Dubai for the fourth time
Frederick Owens | 10 November, 2018, 22:09

Garcia's error-free round was in stark contrast to that of world number six McIlroy, whose level-par 72 was characterised by some wayward driving.

Sergio Garcia and defending champion Branden Grace are among the other big draws in the tournament hosted by Gary Player this week.

Sergio Garcia leads the Nedbank Golf Challenge by four shots after posting a superb eight-under 64 on the opening day in Sun City, South Africa.

Garcia made another three birdies in the last four holes to sign for his best round at this venue since he claimed the first of his two titles at Sun City in 2001. I rolled the ball nicely, I made some good putts here and there. It's not ideal to see three-putts, but some of the pins were nearly impossible to get to and when you leave yourself 20 or 25 feet putting over hills then it is going to happen sometimes. There are still two days to go and I am leading, so I am still in a great spot.

"Shooting 68 or 69 today would have been great, but unfortunately that didn't work out, but you have to be extremely precise on this course".

He is four shots ahead of the field.

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The Spaniard's play in the early part of 2018 was so poor that some saw him as a risky selection for a Ryder Cup wild card but he has not looked back since being selected by Europe captain Thomas Bjorn.

But an eagle on the 10th and birdies on 14 and 15 elevated the 2010 Open Championship victor up the leaderboard on a hard scoring day with players hindered by a swirling breeze.

"Over the years eight has always been a tough tee shot on the eye for me, I only see a three-iron there and it was a bit into the breeze today. I still could have got away with a bogey, but both my caddie and I completely misread the putt".

He whispered to Player as he handed the crystal trophy back to the tournament host in a televised ceremony on Tuesday: "Hopefully we can keep it in South Africa again this week". It's the first tournament that I came to watch live and watch my heroes play. "But I gave myself lots of chances, so then this leads to more birdies".

"My thing is I'm coming here with the goal that, if I can get into that final group on Thursday with Frankie next week, that would be a good start", said the Northern Irishman.

"If I can tidy that up tomorrow I should be alright, but obviously I'm pretty disappointed right now", said McIlroy.

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