Sergio Garcia finished strong when he threw three consecutive birdies out of the 15th Nedbank Challenge – first leaderboard-8 S Garcia (Spa); -4 C Schwartzel (SA), M Korhonen (Fin), M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra); Selected -3 A Sullivan (s), M Wallace (L), L Oosthuizen (SA); -1 L Westwood (Eng), S Lowry (Ire), R Fisher (Eng), M Fitzpatrick (Eng); Level R McIlroy (NI); +1 P Harrington (Ire)
Sergio Garcia has fired an eight-to-par 64 to gain a four-fold advantage after day one at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.
The Spaniard, 38, didn't shoot, he made an impressive start to his bid for a second consecutive victory after his victory in the Valderrama Masters.
Garcia is four free from another former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel plus Mikko Korhonen and Mike Lorenzo-Vera
Rory McIlroy dropped three late shots to finish at the same level
The disappointing finish of Northern Ireland included a double bogey on the 17th, when his vague hope of overhauling Race to Dubai leader Francesco Molinari suffered a blow.
Eighth placed McIlroy is almost £ 1.75 million behind Molinari and has to win at least one of the remaining two events to overhaul the Italian, who has a lead of just under £ 1 million from Ryder Cup partner and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood.
McIlroy, 29, was within moving distance of Garcia as a bird at 13 moved him to three below.
Rory McIlroy double bogeyed the 17th after a wandering ride and a bad bunker shot
However, he left a shot on the long 14th before worse followed on the penultimate gap as a wandering ride and bad bunker shot led to his double bogey six.
Garcia seeks a third victory in Sun City after previous triumphs in 2001 and 2003.
It was the lowest opening round of the Spaniard of the season with two shots and corresponded to the biggest first tour of the tour in 2018.
"I made some good putts here and there, it was one of those rounds where things happened to me", said the European Ryder Cup star
"I played pretty smart, although I probably did not swing unbelievably, I kept it under control and judged part of the wind, which is always difficult here."
Home player Schwartzel dropped only one shot in his 68 which was equaled by the Frenchman Lorenzo-Vera and Finn Korhonen.
The English duo Andy Sullivan and Matt Wallace are in a six-strong group on three, including the South African 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.