Bernd Wiesberger holds a one-shot lead after the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Tommy Fleetwood has ground to make up if he is to wrap up the Race to Dubai title in Sun City.
Wiesberger signed for a five-under 67 to hold a slender lead after a stunning back nine from the Austrian at Gary Player Country Club.
The four-time European Tour champion was level par at the turn, but surged up the leaderboard with six birdies and just the one bogey on the back nine.
Wiesberger took the outright lead with an eighth gain of the day at the last following a glorious approach shot as he eyes a second victory of the season in the penultimate event.
Branden Grace is among a quartet of players just one stroke behind Wiesberger, recovering from being two over after four by coming up with an eagle three at 14 and four birdies.
Victor Dubuisson, Scott Jamieson and Julian Suri, striving to seal a spot in the top 60 in the Race to Dubai standings in order to be among the field at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next week, also put themselves in contention with rounds of 68.
Defending champion Alex Noren, eighth in the battle to be crowned European number one, is a further shot back on three under, dropping his only shot of the day at 17 after chipping in for eagle at the 10th.
Defending your title in style. pic.twitter.com/Ety4xraZ4j— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 9, 2017
Charl Schwartzel is well placed on three under in his homeland along with Noren, Graeme Storm and Hideto Tanihara.
Fleetwood can wrap up the Race to Dubai with a win on Sunday, but the Englishman is six shots off the pace.
Ross Fisher – who also harbours hopes of landing the lucrative crown – is among 12 players just three shots adrift of Wiesberger.
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