Daniel van Tonder joked with his wife that he could pick up his ball on the last two holes on Saturday, take the double bogeys that would have been allocated in the modified stableford format of the Investec Royal Swazi Open and still win.
He didn’t, but he could have. With double bogeys costing three points, bogeys one, and eagles gaining five, birdies two and pars providing none, he did in fact bogey the last two holes, but coming as that did after a run of five consecutive birdies, he was home and hosed.
“I’m very happy,” said Van Tonder after his fourth triumph in seven starts since the Sunshine Tour resumed action after the Covid-19 enforced break. “I had a slow start, but I really just took advantage when things started going my way on the back nine.”
While there were players making a run at him – Adilson Da Silva shot a 66 for 13 points, Peter Karnis a bogey-free 66 for 12, and Merrick Bremner’s 66 brought him 14 – Van Tonder’s lead was never seriously under threat as he built assiduously on it from the very beginning.
His 48-point total had him 18 points clear of runner-up Neil Schietekat, with MJ Viljoen in third on 29 points for the tournament.
He’s now well clear of any pursuers at the top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, and he will take a break next week as the tour goes to Wingate Park in Pretoria for the 54-hole Time Square Casino Challenge.
“Even though I’m playing well, the following three tournaments – the Joburg Open, the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the SA Open – are really important, and I can’t sit back and not practice.
“I’ve got to keep working on things, because in those events, I have to keep hitting it straight, keep hitting greens and putting will be more important than ever.”
For now, he’s basking in the knowledge that he’s playing the way everyone believed he would when he first turned professional – brilliantly.