Garcia’s lead in Sun City cut to 1 by Oosthuizen

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

Sergio Garcia birdied three of the last four holes on his way to a faultless opening round of 64 and a four-shot lead in the European Tour's Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City on Thursday.

Garcia - a victor at this event in 2001 and 2003 - birdied the par-five second and hit a stunning approach into the third for back-to-back birdies and a three-shot lead.

Four-time major victor Rory McIlroy, who needs a top-two finish to stay in with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai, is 10 shots off the pace on level par, after a one-over 73.

McIlroy has twice won the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai but has not played in this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge since 2009, when he was forced to withdraw after two rounds with a stomach virus.

Li Haotong, who can also win the Race to Dubai, carded a 1-under 71. But he was still solid overall on a course with lightning-fast greens and a series of pins tucked away in the corners.

"It's going to be tough, there's no doubt about that", Garcia said. "It doesn't work like that". I feel like my game is in pretty good shape.

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Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, made two birdies and two bogeys to lead the home charge after a 72 while Westwood - victor here in 2010 and 2011 - signed for a 69.

The Spaniard responded by holing a 15-footer at the next and making another from a similar distance at the ninth to reach the turn three ahead, only for Ross Fisher to cut the gap to two after following a front-nine 31 with three birdies in four holes from the 11th.

His 67 was matched by Dylan Frittelli, one of four players tied for fourth. He was 8 under after 14 holes. First, the Englishman sent his tee shot way left and the ball was trapped under a dead tree, which he would have been allowed to move if he had been able to lift it.

Sergio Garcia held on to his lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, as Louis Oosthuizen impressed on home soil.

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.

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