(Reuters) - Britain’s Ross Fisher defied the Sun City heat to shoot a six-under 66 and take a two-shot lead in the race for the $1.25 million first prize after the opening round of the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa on Thursday.
Fisher carded seven birdies in the opening event of the 2014-15 European Tour season at the Gary Player Country Club and recorded a solitary bogey at the par-three 16th.
“I felt like I played pretty solid, I hit some real good shots. It’s funny listening to how people approach this golf course, some are aggressive, some play the opposite,” the Englishman told reporters.
“I didn’t miss too many fairways and played exactly how I wanted to. One bogey, seven birdies for six-under on this golf course...I’ll definitely take that and run.”
The 34-year-old Fisher, who picked up the last of his five tour wins at the Tshwane Open in March, holds a two-shot lead over South African George Coetzee, Alexander Levy of France and German Marcel Siem.
Siem won a Volvo car after his eagle two at the 17th produced the biggest applause of the day, the ball deflecting off the right edge of the green and spinning into the hole.
Former world number one Lee Westwood, twice a winner of this event, opened with a 72 while South African trio Louis Oosthuizen, Tim Clark and Charl Schwartzel went round in 70.
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn of Denmark slumped to an eight-over 80 while world number 13 Martin Kaymer, the highest-ranked player in the 30-strong field, had to settle for a 74.
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Tony Jimenez