Van Tonder powers clear in Investec Royal Swazi Open

Daniel van Tonder made eagle on 18 for the second day in a row as he tightened his grip on proceedings on Thursday in the second round of the Investec Royal Swazi Open at Gary Player Country Club, carding a four-under-par 68.

In the modified stableford format of the tournament which allocates 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, Van Tonder moved to 27 points. Neil Schietekat and Oliver Bekker were well back in a share of second on 17 points.

Van Tonder’s eagle on 18 – the ninth for those fans who know the course in its Nedbank Golf Challenge set-up – was a more daring affair in the second round as he flew a three-iron approach onto the island green to a pin position that was 235 metres away. He made the five-metre putt for the eagle.

“It wasn’t as risky as it sounds,” said Van Tonder. “The pin was in the middle of the green in front, so that meant I had quite a bit of space behind it in case I flew the approach too long.”

The efforts on that hole typified Van Tonder’s approach to golf generally and theis tournament in particular where risk is rewarded. In the second round, however, he made three bogeys, which dragged his points tally back a bit. “One of the bogeys was a three-putt, on the 12th, and the other came on the ninth when the wind changed on me, and messed with my club selection,” he said.

Despite making that five-metre putt for that eagle, Van Tonder cited that three-putt as evidence that his putting was only so-so. “The greens were pretty hard, which made the course play a little differently today,” he said. “I certainly feel as if I could have made a lot kore points out there today.”

The best round of the day came from Anton Haig, who carded a bogey-free five-under 67 to make 10 points and move to a total of 14 for the tournament, 13 behind Van Tonder.

The 2016 champion, and the man who has won three times in six starts since the resumption of the Covid-19 enforced break in the Sunshine Tour, Van Tonder is looking very much like the man to beat.

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