Sergio García leads the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
While Garcia bogeyed three of his last six holes, Oosthuizen came home in 32, with that eagle three and two birdies on his back nine. It's not ideal to see three-putts, but some of the pins were nearly impossible to get to and when you leave yourself 20 or 25 feet putting over hills then it is going to happen sometimes. "My game is not really where I want it to be, but I've got two more opportunities this week to try and put a couple of good rounds together and then go to Dubai and try to finish the season on a high".
Garcia, twice a Sun City victor 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 Spaniard hit an eight under par 64 to lead the pack by four shots while McIlroy had a disappointing day at the office. I would certainly have taken that on Thursday morning.
Oosthuizen looked to be struggling after a double-bogey on the eighth hole saw him turn at one under-par for the round. I feel like I played quite well.
Finn Mikko Korhonen sits third, three shots off Garcia, with English pair Lee Westwood and Aaron Rai, South Africa's Dylan Frittelli and Ireland's Shane Lowry a further two shots back on four under after a 3 under par 69.
Former Masters champion Garcia, 38, is on 10 under after his one-under par 71, with South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen remaining on eight under after his 72. "I still could have got away with a bogey, but both my caddie and I completely misread the putt". Yesterday the wind felt like it was switching on a lot of holes, and you're looking up in the sky trying to figure it out.
He also birdied the first two holes and ended with a tally of seven birdies, offset by bogeys on two of the four par-threes.
"My thing is I'm coming here with the goal that, if I can get into that final group on Thursday with Frankie next week, that would be a good start", said the Northern Irishman. "I need them to go in if I want to win the tournament‚" he said.
Defending champion Branden Grace of South Africa shot a 71 to trail Garcia by six strokes. The golf course is a ball-striker's paradise, really.