SUN CITY, South Africa -- Bill Haas nearly escaped with a fine score on his Sun City debut, bogeying two of his last three holes to slip back into a share of the first-round lead with Nicolas Colsaerts at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Thursday.
Haas made five birdies and one bogey to move 4 under and two clear before slips at 16 and 18 pegged him back.
American Haas and Belgium's Colsaerts -- also a Nedbank rookie -- eventually carded 2-under 70s to lead by one from South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, Scotland's Paul Lawrie and two-time defending champion Lee Westwood of England.
Haas could have had a 68 in his first competitive round at the challenging Gary Player Country Club, only for the course's narrow fairways and unforgiving rough to snare him on his final few holes. He needed to sink a 10-foot putt for his bogey on the last after fighting his way out of the stubborn Kikuyu grass rough.
"Happy to make that last putt, a six on the last would have really stung," Haas said. "Happy with 2 under but it would have been nice to shoot a couple more (birdies). Because it's playing tough out there."
Westwood, recently untouchable in Sun City after back to back wins in 2010 and 2011, had three birdies and two bogeys in his 1-under 71 as he seeks to become the first player to win three consecutive Nedbank titles.
Justin Rose dropped shots on three straight holes on the back nine for a 1-over 73 and place 11th out of 12, a rude awakening for the Englishman after his course-record 62 at the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai last weekend.
Only South African Garth Mulroy is below Rose after two double bogeys in his 75.
Colsaerts, who is one of seven members of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team in the 12-man field at Sun City, dropped just one shot on the par-4 8th in his 2-under 70.
Behind Colsaerts and Haas, Oosthuizen mixed four birdies with three bogeys for his 71. Lawrie parred 11 holes in a row to finish 1 under and in a share of third with Oosthuizen and Westwood.
Francesco Molinari was level par despite starting with a birdie on the first to be one of five players sharing sixth. Former World number one Martin Kaymer, Peter Hanson, Charl Schwartzel and Carl Pettersson -- with his long putter -- also made 72s.
Haas's father Jay is playing in the seniors' Champions Challenge at Sun City, where he was 1 under for second place behind Bernhard Langer after their opening round.
The last time the Haas pair was here was in 2003, when Bill came to watch his father play but ended up ignoring most of the golf to go on safari, see lions and crocodiles and to do some water skiing at the Sun City casino resort.
"I only watched like two holes of golf (in 2003) so a lot of the holes I've seen for the first time," Haas junior said. "At one point (on Thursday) I was on seven green and my dad ... was on 13 green, so I could see him. It is neat to feel like his peer this week."