Garcia still having fun in Sun City
SERGIO Garcia continued his remarkable recent run of form as he opened up a t wo- shot lead heading into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
The Spaniard’s play in the early part of 2018 was so poor that some saw him as a risky selection for a Ryder Cup wild card but he has not looked back since being selected by Europe captain Thomas Bjorn.
He finished in the top 10 at the Portugal Masters, won three points in the victory at Le Golf National to become the competition’s alltime highest points scorer and then successfully defended his title at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.
The 2013 Masters champion led after days one and two in Sun City and a third-round 71 moved him to 10 under, two shots clear of fellow Major winner Louis Oosthuizen.
England’s Lee Westwood was then at seven under alongside Belgian Thomas Detry and Finn Mikko Korhonen, with Ross Fisher a further shot back.
Garcia said: “I thought it was pretty good. The course is playing difficult, but I felt like probably I didn’t get much out of my round. I felt like I was quite consistent.
“Maybe I could have been a little bit more aggressive 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 just going to keep trying to do the same thing.
“It’s going to be tough, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s great to come with some good momentum, playing nicely and in the lead. It should be a fun day.
“I think if I can manage to shoot somewhere in the 60s, maybe 70 might be enough.”
Garcia, a winner at this event in 2001 and 2003, birdied the par-5 second and hit a stunning approach into the third for back-toback birdies and a three-shot lead.
He got in tree trouble on the 13th but birdied the 17th after another excellent approach before sending his second into the stands for a closing bogey.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, made two birdies and two bogeys to lead the home charge after a 72 while Westwood, winner in 2010 and 2011, signed for a 69.
“It was tough for me,” Oosthuizen said. “I didn’t play well. I realised 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.
“I enjoy playing with the leader. It’s what we play for to be in that spot, playing the last group on a Sunday. I just need to go out and fire at pins and hopefully have a good round.”
Westwood will be hoping likewise. “I think it requires a lot of patience because the breeze is changing, and you do get some strange things happening out there because of where it is,” he said.
“I’ve always enjoyed putting on these greens. Sometimes you get some big breaking putts. It reminds me in a way of Augusta the way you have to tackle it. You have to play away from pins and sometimes you have putts that you don’t want or leave in a spot where you can’t get it up-and-down.
“It’s always lovely being in the last couple of groups in this tournament, the crowds are always very enthusiastic.”
Fisher, meanwhile, dropped eight shots in his last four holes on Friday but recovered with a thirdround 67.
In the quest to stay in the hunt for the Race to Dubai, Li Haotong and Lucas Bjerregaard both need a win but were 10 and 14 shots back respectively, while Rory McIlroy – who needs a top-two finish – was at level par.