Sergio Garcia leads Nedbank Challenge, eyes 2nd straight win

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Sergio Garcia leads Nedbank Challenge, eyes 2nd straight win

Euro Tour

Sergio Garcia leads Nedbank Challenge, eyes 2nd straight win

Sergio Garcia is 18 holes away from his second win of the European Tour season after a third round 1-under 71 gave him a two-shot lead in the $7.5 million Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.

Amazing what a Ryder Cup victory can do for a player’s confidence.

The Spaniard sits on 10 under, two shots ahead of home favorite Louis Oosthuizen. Lee Westwood, Finland’s Mikko Korhonen and Thomas Detry of Belgium are three shots off the lead on 7 under.

The 2017 Masters winner might be further ahead if not for two bogeys in his last six holes, including one on the 18th.

“I felt like probably I didn’t get much out of my round,” Garcia said.

“Maybe I could have been a little bit more aggressive hitting a couple shots here and there, but I gave myself a good amount of chances. Unfortunately, the putts didn’t want to drop but at the end of the day, shooting under par, still in the lead, I’m happy with that.

“I’m going to go out and try to shoot under par like I’ve done all three days. I think if I can manage to shoot somewhere in the 60s, maybe 70 might be enough.”

Garcia is making his second start since becoming Europe’s all-time Ryder Cup points winner. He won three points of four as one of Thomas Bjorn’s wild-card picks to help Europe defeat the United States at Le Golf National. He won the Andalucia Valderrama Masters on his first start after the Ryder Cup, and is the odds-on favorite to win his third Nedbank title. He won in 2001 and 2003 before the event joined the European Tour schedule.

“It would be great. Winning any tournament, it’s always amazing, but winning here, a Rolex Series event, obviously extra special.”

Oosthuizen didn’t rise to the occasion in front of home fans. He had two birdies and two bogeys in his level-par 72, including a six on the par-5 14th hole.

“I didn’t play well,” Oosthuizen admitted. “Didn’t hit many good shots, really. So I realized early on that it was a round I needed to keep together and not really blow myself out of the tournament. I hung in there nicely. A little bit of a stupid error on 14, but other than that, the way I was playing today, I’m very happy to be two behind.”

Westwood returned a 3-under 69 to get into contention. His challenge won’t go unnoticed by Garcia. The veteran Englishman is also a two-time Nedbank winner, taking the title in 2010 and 2011.

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