Garcia leads by two as Irish challenge fades in South Africa

McIlroy is aiming to win the Race to Dubai for the fourth time

McIlroy is aiming to win the Race to Dubai for the fourth time

Sergio Garcia only just held onto his lead as Louis Oosthuizen's second-round charge took him to within a shot of the Spaniard at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Friday.

Garcia, twice a victor in Sun City before the Nedbank Challenge became part of the tour, made eight birdies and was bogey-free in a brilliant start to the penultimate tournament of the season.

Garcia was already in first place, leading by four strokes, when he teed off on Friday, and while he started superbly with birdies on the first two holes, and picked up further strokes on the par-four sixth and the par-five ninth and 14 holes, he also had four bogeys in his round, three of them due to three-putts.

McIlroy, without a European Tour win this season, needs at least one victory in the next two weeks to have a chance of being crowned Europe's No. 1 for a fourth time.

Li Haotong and Lucas Bjerregaard also have outside chances at the Race to Dubai title but Haotong was six shots off the lead at the Nedbank Challenge and Bjerregaard was 10 behind. But he was still solid overall on a course with lightning-fast greens and a series of pins tucked away in the corners. "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. "It doesn't work like that".

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, made two birdies and two bogeys to lead the home charge after a 72 while Westwood - victor here in 2010 and 2011 - signed for a 69.

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.

Ross Fisher came close to the round of the day when he made the turn in 31 after three birdies and an eagle in his first nine.

But Fisher had a series of mishaps on No. 15. He then found trees again and lost his ball.

Sergio Garcia made a brilliant start as he eyes back-to-back titles, shooting his lowest round in Sun City for 17 years.

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