SUN CITY, South Africa — Sergio Garcia fired a superb eight-under-par opening-round 64 in the EPGA Nedbank Golf Challenge Thursday to take a four-shot lead at Sun City with star attraction Rory McIlroy eight behind.
Finn Mikko Korhonen, Mike Lorenzo-Vera from France and South African Charl Schwartzel share second place on 68.
“This sort of round does not happen very often, I was very fortunate,” said the 38-year-old Spanish winner of the 2017 Masters after his bogey-free round.
While the two-time Sun City champion put his good fortune down to the vagaries of the wind not punishing him and some “bonus putts”, his round on a first visit to Sun City since 2013 was remarkable.
“This kind of round does not happen very often but I played very consistently and kept the ball in play,” said Garcia.
“This tricky wind moved all over the place and on one hole you could have three or four different winds.
“You have to just trust your shot and sometimes it goes wrong, but I was fortunate to get it right a lot of the time — to be bogey-free was really nice.
“I drove the ball nicely, hit a lot of fairways and greens, but it just does not happen on this course that you are going to hit the ball to two feet every time.
“I made three or four very good putts, those little bonuses that you do not expect to make. But I gave myself lots of chances, so then this leads to more birdies.”
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.