Garcia dominant on Day 1 at Nedbank Golf ChallengeEurope's Sergio Garcia plays from the 14th tee during a practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. The 42nd Ryder Cup will be held in France from Sept. 28-30, 2018 at Le Golf National. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) -- Sergio Garcia flew into a four-shot lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge after an 8-under 64 on Thursday secured the biggest first-round advantage on the European Tour for a year.
Garcia, twice a Sun City winner before the Nedbank became part of the tour, made eight birdies in a brilliant start to the penultimate tournament of the season to move four strokes clear of Charl Schwartzel, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Mikko Korhonen at the Gary Player Country Club.
The lead was the biggest first-round advantage since Arjun Atwal led by four at the Mauritius Open last November.
Rory McIlroy, one of five players with a chance of being crowned European No. 1 at the end of the season, shot a level-par 72 after a double-bogey six on his second-to-last hole spoiled his round.
McIlroy missed the fairway off the tee on No. 17 and then found a bunker. He ended the day in a tie for 21st.
Li Haotong, who can also win the Race to Dubai at next week's Tour Championship, carded a 71.
A third player capable of ending the year as Europe's No. 1, Lucas Bjerregaard, was 3-over.
Garcia's two Nedbank titles came in 2001 and 2003, and his 64 was his lowest round at the tournament for 17 years. He began with a birdie on Thursday and twice reeled off three in a row.
''I felt great,'' he said. ''I rolled the ball nicely. I made some good putts here and there. I probably wasn't swinging unbelievably, but I kept it under control. I kept the ball in play all the time, which is difficult to do here.''
The 38-year-old Garcia is seeking a second straight victory after winning last month's Andalucia Valderrama Masters, which his foundation sponsors.
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.
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