Richie Ramsay marks Sun City debut with round of 69

Richie Ramsay bounced back from a bitterly disappointing last round in Turkey on Sunday to sit close to the lead after the first round of the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.

Richie Ramsay was in fine form during day one of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images

On a day when Englishman Ross Fisher shot a 68 to set the pace at Sun City along with Korea’s Jeunghun Wang and Chilean Felipe Aguilar, Ramsay was pleased to find himself just a shot adrift. It was a welcome upturn in fortune after he’d closed with a 74 in the first Final Series event in Belek at the weekend to slip 30 spots and cost himself a “barrowload of money”.

“This is my debut here, but I love the course and it’s great to play,” said the 33-year-old after signing for six birdies to sit alongside Open champion and Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson. “You’ve got to drive it well, which I did today. That gave me lots of chances coming into the greens.”

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Ramsay, who needs to climb nine spots on the money list come Sunday to get into next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, added: “All in all, it was a really good day. I just need to sharpen up the short game a touch.”

Marc Warren and David Drysdale signed for 75 and 76 respectively as Stenson closed in on the Race to Dubai title by finishing the day six shots ahead of playing partner and Masters champion Danny 

Willett had topped the money list since winning his first major title at the Masters in April, but was overtaken by Open champion Henrik Stenson at the end of October.

Stenson was joint second in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai as Willett could only finish 14 over par and 75th in the 78-man field at Sheshan International.

And Willett could not take advantage of Stenson’s absence from the Turkish Airlines Open last week, the 29-year-old ending up joint 68th in Antalya to only reduce his deficit from 261,387 to 252,163 points.

With more than one million points on offer to the winner in South Africa, a second victory for 2008 champion Stenson at the Gary Player Country Club would give the Swede a second Race to Dubai title in four years if Willett finishes outside the top 10.