Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson birdied three of the last four holes and was a shot off the lead after the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Thursday.
Stenson's 3-under 69 at Sun City put him just behind a three-way tie at the top. A victory for Stenson in South Africa will see him clinch the Race to Dubai title ahead of Danny Willett and Rory McIlroy.
Felipe Aguilar, Jeunghun Wang and Ross Fisher all shot 68s for the early lead at the Nedbank, the second of the three season-ending final series events on the European Tour.
Willett was in trouble at Sun City after opening with a 3-over 75. McIlroy skipped last week's Turkish Airlines Open and the Nedbank.