Eagle-machine Van Tonder takes halfway lead at Karen

Mar 24, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

From the European Tour

Daniel van Tonder eagled each of the three par-fives at Karen Country Club as the South African moved into a one-stroke lead at the halfway point of the European Tour’s Kenya Savannah Classic.

The 30-year-old, who won four of his seven Sunshine Tour titles in the 2020 season, had 10 threes on his card on day two in Nairobi – three of them birdies and three of them eagles – as a seven-under-par 64 added to his opening 65 for a 13 under-par total.

That moved him to the front of the packed leaderboard at Karen Country Club, a short, classic golf course which has proven equally challenging for players of every playing style over both of the back-to-back events held there.

“It started from the tee shots,” said the South African. “I hit three very good tee shots. On the sixth I hit driver and had 177 metres to the pin and hit nine-iron, I got short of that last slope and made the putt. Second one was driver, eight-iron, pin-high left and made a good putt again. Then the next was driver-wedge and I hit the putt well and made it.

“It’s a bit different this week. Last week I was here as well and missed the cut by one. I was struggling with my swing a bit – trying to play aggressive but it didn’t really work the first day. On the second I got it back. But this week I’ve found something again. I got some confidence out there so I am able to hit the driver on most tee boxes and be aggressive going into the pins.”

Justin Harding, the winner of last week’s Magical Kenya Open , continued his remarkable form at Karen as he carded a 66 to drop back to a share of second place having shared the first round lead.

“I think the golf course just suits me well,” said the two-time European Tour winner. “I enjoy it out there, I drove it really well today, I put it in play and to be fair I probably just didn’t hit it close enough to the hole. I made a couple of good long putts but missed a couple of short ones which was a bit annoying.

“Ultimately it’s two good days’ work done and I’ve given myself on the final two days. I think I’ve got to just handle my emotions correctly. Today I was a little grumpier than I’ve been for the last five days but ultimately it’s a beautiful golf course to play and, as I’ve said many times, there are a bunch of birdies out there. If you execute your plan, any one of us can go out there and score so I’m trying to fend off the rest of the guys and see what happens.”

Jacques Kruyswijk carded a seven-under 64 to move to eight-under for the tournament in a share of 14th. Mathiam Keyser was on seven-under after a one-under 70 second round, and Jayden Schaper’s four-under 67 took him to six-under in a share of 34th, a position he shared with Louis de Jager, who signed for a six-under 65 in the second round.

Dean Burmester, JC Ritchie. Thriston Lawrence, Wilco Nienaber, George Coetzee, Garrick Higgo, Haydn Porteous and Zander Lombard all missed the cut.

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