Stenson's stunning round equals Els' record

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The Independent Online

Henrik Stenson surged five strokes clear of the field with a course record-tying 63 in the Sun City Challenge first round here yesterday. The big-hitting Swede was in impressive form, combining accurate tee shots with precision putting at the Gary Player Country Club to fire his nine-under-par score and equal the record set by Ernie Els in the final round of the 2002 event.

The Swede started with three successive birdies and also had an eagle on the back nine. The South African Rory Sabbatini was second on 68 with Britain's Lee Westwood third on 70.

Stenson, who won last week's World Cup for Sweden with his team-mate Robert Karlsson, carried on that form with a three-under start on the first three holes. After a bogey four at the seventh he had back-to-back birdies at eight and nine. After another birdie at the 10th, the Ryder Cup player went birdie-eagle-birdie from the 13th before finishing with three par figures.

Luke Donald, of Britain, continued his comeback from injury with a level-par 72 to share fourth place alongside K J Choi, Spain's Sergio Garcia, James Kingston, the defending champion Trevor Immelman and Karlsson, who was making his debut in the invitational 12-man tournament. Britain's Justin Rose was another shot back after a 73 alongside the American Kenny Perry. Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez was last on 75.