Sergio Garcia leads as Louis Oosthuizen charges at Nedbank Golf Challenge

Rory Mc Ilroy can still catch Francesco Molinari at the top of the Race to Dubai standings

World No 70 Lowry closed with a birdie to add a three-under 69 to his opening 71 and move up to tied fourth, just five strokes behind Sergio Garcia on four-under par and remain on course to continue his rise in the Race to Dubai and the world rankings.

While Garcia bogeyed three of his last six holes, Oosthuizen came home in 32, with that eagle and two birdies on his back nine.

Two-time victor Garcia leads the way by four shots after posting a superb eight-under 64 at the Gary Player Country Club, registering eight birdies in his bogey-free round.

The 38-year-old, who is going for a second consecutive win, having triumphed at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters last month, said in quotes on the European Tour website yesterday: "It felt great". There are still two days to go and I am leading, so I am still in a great spot.

Oostuizen who carded a five-under 67 to be on eight-under‚ a shot off Garcia‚ would have been in the lead had it not been for the only blemish on his card - a double bogey six on the eighth.

Garcia is four clear of another former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel plus Mikko Korhonen and Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

He likely needs a finish inside the top 8 if he is to be on the plane to Dubai on Monday and his encouraging start leaves the door open.

"I only see hitting a three-iron out there and it was a little into the breeze and I knew I had to hit a good three-iron and probably leave myself with a five-iron in".

McIlroy's front nine was promising with three birdies offset by just a single bogey, at the par-four third when his ball plugged just below the lip of a greenside bunker.

It was the Spaniard's lowest opening round score of the season by two shots and matched the biggest first-round lead on the tour in 2018.

Meanwhile, Mount Juliet's Gavin Moynihan fears his bid for a European Tour card could be over before it starts after suffering a back injury on the eve of the g European Tour Qualifying School in Spain. If you do that you can give yourself a lot of chances around here, but you need to get the ball in the fairway first.

South African compatriot Branden Grace, who won the event past year, is in a seven-way tie for eighth in three under.

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