Swede Henrik Stenson has fired a superb 63 in the opening round of the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City.

The tough layout of the Gary Player Country Club gave the Swede no problems as he combined accurate iron play with some meticulous putting. Stenson’s scintillating round equals the course record set by Ernie Els in 2002.

He got to the turn in four-under, but he wasn’t finished there. After a birdie at the 10th, Stenson blazed a trail with a birdie-eagle–birdie run from the 13th to the 15th, before completing the remaining holes in par.

Stenson is an astounding five shots clear of his closest rival Rory Sabbatini and seven shots clear of England’s Lee Westwood. The three being the only players under par, which makes Stenson’s round all the more remarkable.

There is a six-way tie for fourth at even par which includes pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson.

Karlsson, who partnered Stenson last week in victory at the World Cup of Golf, started like a train and was tied for the lead with Stenson at four-under. But penalty shots at the 11th and 12th led to successive double bogeys and demoted the big Swede down the field.

Defending champion Trevor Immelman is in the group at even par alongside Luke Donald. The Englishman has been out due to a long term injury and this steady round will be a welcome boost after missing out on the Ryder Cup.

One shot back is American Kenny Perry and Justin Rose. Spain’s Migel Angel Jimenez is bringing up the rear of the field at three-over with an opening round 75.


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