Golf: Willett falls back in Nedbank title defence

Danny Willett

Danny Willett

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Danny Willett's chances of retaining his Nedbank Golf Challenge title suffered a blow in the early stages of the second round in Sun City on Friday.

The Sheffield man began the day just a shot off the lead shared by Henrik Stenson and local favourite Jaco van Zyl after an opening 67, but found himself five off the pace after just two holes at the Gary Player Country Club.

The 28-year-old had pledged to maintain the aggressive approach which saw him produce rounds of 65 and 66 over the weekend 12 months ago, but that approach saw him find water with a risky second shot to the par-five second after an errant drive.

The damage caused by the resulting bogey was compounded by the flying starts made by his playing partners in the final group, Van Zyl holing from 12 feet for a birdie on the first and from a similar distance for eagle on the second.

That gave the 36-year-old South African a one-shot lead on nine under par, with Stenson on eight under after birdies at the first and second.

Australia's Marc Leishman was three shots further back with Willett and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat on four under.