Sergio Garcia shot a 71 on Friday and will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.
The Spaniard, who entered the day with a four-shot advantage, finished his second day in Sun City with five birdies against four bogeys including three blemishes over his final six holes (Nos. 13, 16 and 18) en route to a two-day score of 9-under 135.
Garcia, who is looking to make it back-to-back wins after triumphing at the Anadalucia Valderrama Masters two weeks ago, was frustrated but pleased to stay out front after two rounds.
“The course is tough,” said Garcia. “It’s not every day you’re going to go out there and shoot 64, it doesn’t work like that. I feel like I played quite well.
“Three three-putts, that’s never ideal but on these greens it can happen. They are so quick and some of the pins are so tucked to the edges that it’s difficult to hit it close to them. Other than that, I felt like I played well throughout the whole day.
“I stayed positive, I stayed calm. I wanted to shoot something below 70 and I felt like I had a chance of doing it, unfortunately it didn’t work out but we’re still in the lead. It’s good.”
One back was local favorite Louis Oosthuizen, who shot a second-day 67. The South African’s day was highlighted by a eagle on the par-5 10th followed by back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 to secure the solo second spot at 8-under par 136.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Championship winner – who has not finished lower than 14th in this event since it joined the European Tour International Schedule in 2013 and the 2010 Open Champion, is in the hunt for his 9th career win.
“It was great. It’s a hard golf course, the wind blew today and the start was difficult so I hung in there and managed to make two birdies in the last four holes which always helps,” said Oosthuizen.
“You never let up on this course, there’s 72 holes to be played and you’ve got to stay committed and keep hitting good shots. 68 is a good score, if you can rattle a few of those off you’ll be close at the end of the week.
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen (70) was at 6 under, two shots clear of hometown hero Dylan Frittelli (67), Ireland’s Shane Lowry (69), and Englishmen Aaron Rai (68) and Lee Westwood (69).
2018 NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE
TOP 5 LEADERS: ROUND TWO
Pos-Player-To Par (Today)
1. Sergio Garcia -9 (-1)
2. Louis Oosthuizen -8 (-5)
3. Mikko Korhonen -6 (-2)
4. Dylan Frittelli -4 (-5)
4. Aaron Rai -4 (-4)
4. Lee Westwood -4 (-3)
4. Shane Lowry -4 (-3)