Garcia leads after opening round of NGCon December 6, 2013
A sensational run of five birdies in six holes catapulted Sergio Garcia into a one-stroke lead as the rain-affected opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at a gloomy Gary Player Country Club reached its completion on Friday morning.
The Spaniard, who returned to his marker on the 10th hole at one-under par for the tournament, kicked things off with three consecutive birdies, having also made a red number at the par-five ninth hole before play was suspended yesterday evening. A par at the 13th offered the iconic course brief respite, but further birdies at the 14th and 17th put daylight between himself and the chasing pack.
Despite having only an hour between rounds, Garcia also found time to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela on a morning where a minute’s silence was held before play commenced as a mark of respect for the former president.
“It’s sad to lose Madiba, not only for South Africa, but for the world,” he told Supersport. “He was such a great man and did so many great things for humanity. He was someone to look up to.”
“He’s passed away, but I’m sure he’s looking down on us and making sure that we stay on track,” Garcia added.
Former Ryder Cup assistant captain Thomas Bjorn continued his rich vein of form as he carded a bogey-free 67, and is joined on five under by Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
Overnight leader Luke Donald was unable to continue his momentum from yesterday, and a bogey at the 16th meant he would have to settle for a 68. South African Charl Schwartzel got things going in the right direction with an eagle at the ninth, and further birdies at the 10th and 14th holes saw him breach the five-under mark. However, a late bogey left him level pegging with the Englishman by the end of the round.
Thai Thongchai Jaidee’s colourful scorecard included just six pars, as his 69 left him in a share of seventh with Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson. Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge sits a further stroke adrift in a share of ninth with American Peter Uihlein.