Garcia leads by two as Irish challenge fades in South Africa

Heather Diaz
November 10, 2018

Home favourite Louis Oosthuizen produced a strong back nine to card a five-under-par 67 and trail leader Sergio Garcia by one shot at the halfway stage of the European Tour's Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club, Sun City.

South African Oosthuizen is his nearest challenger as he seeks a first win at a tournament he has long coveted, with Finland's Mikko Korhonen (70) three shots back.

"Like I said earlier, it's very important to keep the ball in play as much as possible here and that's what I was trying to do when I didn't feel comfortable with the driver, because if it got too narrow, I hit something less than that and tried to play the hole maybe a little bit tougher and realise those things".

"This tricky wind moved all over the place, and on one hole you could have three or four different winds".

"I'm super excited to be back here", he said during the ceremony. "When you can do that here, it's nice to be able to shoot a score like this".

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. "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's gonna happen sometimes", a phlegmatic Garcia said after his round on Friday. But Grace's victory last year ended a gap of 10 years between his triumph and that of the last South African victor before him, namely Trevor Immelman in 2007.

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It's stuff they don't normally do, and it came about because they were rushed, and therefore their time on the ball was cut down". Not only on attack but on defence as well. "You have to give them credit for limiting the All Blacks to a single point, though.

He was by no means the only player to struggle on the 15th though as 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (78) needed nine shots to complete the hole.

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

"Everything's good, the game is on the money, and it is about as good as I have ever played", he said after his 68.

"It's a tournament I've always wanted to play as a kid and I came here plenty of times with the family to watch". I probably wasn't swinging unbelievably, but I kept it under control.

"I managed to guess some of the winds here right and that is very, very hard. Hopefully I can get off to a good start this week".

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