Big Garcia lead cut in frustrating second round

Rory McIlroy left in Sergio Garcia's wake after first round of Nedbank Golf Challenge

Rory McIlroy left in Sergio Garcia's wake after first round of Nedbank Golf Challenge

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 on Friday.

Mikko Korhonen (70) was third at 6 under, two behind Oosthuizen and three off the lead.

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.

The 38-year-old, who is going for a second consecutive win, having triumphed at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters last month, said in quotes on the European Tour website yesterday: "It felt great".

A spectacular 18th where the ball circled the hole and rolled back out for a bogey summed up a frustrated round for Garcia. 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 is going to happen sometimes. "It doesn't work like that". I think I played very smart.

A group of eight players are at three under-par, including defending champion Branden Grace and 2010 British Open victor Louis Oosthuizen.

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English pair Lee Westwood and Aaron Rai share fourth spot alongside Dylan Frittelli and Shane Lowry, with Thomas Detry in the group a further stroke back after a round-of-the-day 66.

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.

England's Ross Fisher blazed his way eight-under for the round but came unstuck on the par-four 15th where he carded a nine. 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.

McIlroy missed the fairway off the tee on 17 and then found a bunker.

Fisher then bogeyed his last three holes, dropping eight shots in his last four for a 72 when he was on course to better Garcia's opening-round 64. He was on the green in six and three-putted for a nine on the par 4.

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