Fox leads at Sun City in McIlroy chase

Ryan Fox has reeled off five birdies and an eagle on the back nine to take the first-round lead at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, boosting his chances of overtaking Rory McIlroy in the European Tour rankings.

The New Zealander opened his challenge at Sun City with an eight-under 64 for a one-shot lead over England's Luke Donald on Thursday.

McIlroy isn't playing in the penultimate tournament of the season in Sun City and a victory would put Fox top of the rankings ahead of next week's season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The New Zealander made three straight birdies on the 9th, 10th and 11th and then added an eagle at 14, a 600-yard par five.

He set himself up for that eagle with a 243-yard second shot with a seven-iron to within four feet.

He made two more birdies on his last two holes and is very much in the running for a third win on the tour this year following his Dunhill Links Championship win last month.

Donald, the European Ryder Cup captain, hasn't won a tournament on either the European Tour or PGA Tour for a decade, but enjoyed something of a return to form by going bogey-free in his 65.

He wasn't the only one to find the Gary Player Country Club layout to his liking, with Italy's Guido Migliozzi third, three off the lead after a 67.

Australia's Min Woo Lee also made a good start in joint-fourth, shooting a four-under 68 that featured four birdies on the inward stretch.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood only managed a 70 and is in a share of 12th

His big setback was a double-bogey six on No. 8 but he pulled it back with four birdies and no more dropped shots after that.

Fleetwood is defending the title he won in Sun City in 2019. The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year is the 40th time the tournament's been played. It was previously known as the Million Dollar Challenge and was born in controversy after being first held in 1981 during the height of apartheid in South Africa.