Van Tonder taking aim at Investec Royal Swazi win

Daniel van Tonder continued his recent run of good form on Wednesday as he took the first-round lead of the Investec Royal Swazi Open at Gary Player Country Club at Sun City.

Van Tonder, who won the title in 2016 at Royal Swazi Spa, took advantage of the modified stableford format of the tournament which allocated five points to an eagle, two for a birdie, none for a par, minus one for a bogey and minus three for a double to card two eagles and five birdies as he progressed to 15 points and a one-point lead over Estiaan Conradie. Defending champion Martin Rohwer was one point back on 13.

Van Tonder also made two bogeys and a double which dragged his points down a little.

“The greens were very good around here,” said Van Tonder. “That meant I was rewarded for putting well. Also, if you miss the greens here, you can often make up-and-down to save par, so that helps with scoring.”

His double came on the 11th – the second for fans familiar with the course from its Nedbank Golf Challenge set-up. “I hit my drive to the middle of the fairway,” said Van Tonder, “and then my second came out hot and flew over the green into the bush at the back. In the end, double was a good score there.”

His eagles came on the fifth (the 14th normally) and the 18th (ninth). “I just chipped my drive onto the fairway on the fifth, and had 197 to the pin,” he said. “I took a five-iron in, and had about a seven-metre putt.

“On 18, I had 195 to the pin over the water, and I took seven-iron. I hit it past the hole on the left, and had a three-metre putt for eagle which I made.”

Van Tonder won three times in his last five tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, and is happy to back on a course he loves an playing in a format which rewards his naturally aggressive approach to golf. “My game is about fairways and greens,” he said, “and I don’t worry about making par, because there is no reward for that!”

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