Sun City, South Africa (SportsNetwork.com) - Ross Fisher fired a 6-under 66 on Thursday and he grabbed a 2-shot lead after the opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Fisher picked up his fifth European Tour title earlier this year, and that victory was his first in nearly four years. Fisher played the first round alongside Marcel Siem and George Coetzee.
Siem, Coetzee and Alexander Levy share second place at minus-4 at Gary Player Country Club. All three players won this year on the European Tour.
Fellow South Africans and past runners-up Charl Schwartzel and Tim Clark opened with 2-under 70s. They were joined in fifth place by Stephen Gallacher, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Louis Oosthuizen.
Luke Donald, Brooks Koepka, Thongchai Jaidee, Jonas Blixt and Danny Willett were the final players in red figures at minus-1.
Fisher parred four of the first five holes to go with a birdie at the second. He flew up the leaderboard starting with a birdie at the sixth. Fisher made it two in a row as he also birdied the seventh.
The Englishman again posted back-to-back birdies at the ninth and 10th, both par-5s, to jump to minus-5.
After three pars in a row, Fisher birdied the 14th for his fourth birdie on a par-5 for the round. He followed with another birdie on the 15th to move to minus-7.
Fisher tripped to a bogey at the par-3 16th before closing with a pair of pars.
"One bogey and seven birdies for a round of 6-under on this golf course - I'll definitely take that and run. I didn't miss many fairways out there and played exactly how I wanted to," Fisher stated.
Siem played the front nine in even-par with a bogey at the sixth and a birdie on the ninth. Around the turn, Siem birdied the 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th, but he dropped a shot at the 12th.
The German tripped to another bogey on the 15th to dip to minus-2. However, Siem jumped into a share of second place as he holed his approach shot for eagle on the par-4 17th.
Coetzee flew out of the gates with three consecutive birdies from the first. After five pars in a row, he birdied nine and 10 to get to 5-under. Coetzee closed his round with a bogey at the last to end two behind.
Levy got going with a birdie on the second and he followed with six straight pars from the third. Back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 moved the Frenchman to minus-3. After a birdie at the 13th, Levy parred the final five holes to close out the only bogey-free round of the day.
NOTES: Prior to his win earlier this year, Fisher's last victory was at the 2010 Irish Open ... Defending champion Thomas Bjorn struggled to an 8-over 80 and he stands in last place in the 30-player field ... This is the first event of the 2014-15 European Tour international schedule.