Garcia takes lead at somber Sun City

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 6, 2013 at 4:48 am •  Published: December 6, 2013
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SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) — With the skies over Sun City fittingly gray, Gary Player cried on a tee box and Ernie Els shared some of his memories of Nelson Mandela.

"It is going to be a tough day for the whole country," Els said.

A somber mood hung over South Africa's first major sporting event since Mandela's death as Sergio Garcia, wearing a black ribbon like the rest of the 30-man field, shot a 6-under 66 to lead after the weather-delayed first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Friday.

In the early morning, golfers stood, some with caps removed, for a moment's silence before the first round restarted after being halted because of lightning on Thursday. Flags dropped to half-staff around the Gary Player Country Club.

A hooter sounded to start the brief moment of reflection on the life of the beloved anti-apartheid leader, who died late Thursday at 95.

Els, one of South Africa's first sporting heroes under Mandela's presidency, walked out of the players' lounge a little after 6:30 a.m. to talk of the times he spent with the former president. Els said that since about 1996 and well into his old age, Mandela used to call the golfer every time he won a tournament.



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