Garcia leads, Australian Scrivener in the mix at Sun City

Australia's Jason Scrivener is among the chasing pack, but they all have their work cut out catching Sergio Garcia after the opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.

Two-time winner Garcia leads the way by four shots after posting a superb eight-under 64 at the Gary Player Country Club, registering eight birdies in his bogey-free round.

Fast start: Sergio Garcia in action during the first round in South Africa.

Fast start: Sergio Garcia in action during the first round in South Africa.Credit:EPA

South Africa's Charl Schwartzel is one of three second-placed players on four-under, along with Finn Mikko Korhonen and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

Scrivener, France's Benjamin Hebert, China's Wu Ashun and Englishmen Andy Sullivan and Matt Wallace make up the group tied for fifth, five shots back after they each carded rounds of three-under 69.

There is then a group of six at three-under, including Schwartzel's compatriot Louis Oosthuizen.

South Africa's defending champion Branden Grace is at two-under, along with New Zealand's Ryan Fox, while world No.6 Rory McIlroy is a further two shots back.

The Northern Irishman made the fourth birdie of his round on the 13th hole before posting a second bogey on the 14th and then double-bogeying the 17th.

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.

Garcia's birdies came on the first, on four out of five holes from the seventh, and then on three of the last four.

The 38-year-old – going for a second consecutive win, having triumphed at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters last month – said in quotes on the European Tour website on Thursday: "It felt great. I rolled the ball nicely, I made some good putts here and there.

"It was one of those rounds where things happened nicely to me. I think I played very smart, I probably wasn't swinging unbelievably but I kept it under control and kept the ball in play all the time which is difficult to do here."


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