Van Tonder raises ranking profile of Limpopo Championship

Daniel van Tonder is the highest-ranked player in the field for the Sunshine Tour’s Limpopo Championship, co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, which gets underway on Thursday at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate.

He brings a world ranking of 80th with him into the week, and, with fellow-South African Brandon Stone at 97th, it is certainly one of the strongest fields ever assembled for a Challenge Tour event – and, while they do add to the ‘strength of field’ of the ranking points calculation, they don’t take the total to a level that raises the minimum points for the tournament, which will be the average of the normal Sunshine Tour points (14) and the Challenge Tour points (12), namely 13.

“Clearly, I want to win this,” said Van Tonder, “but I would also be glad if Brandon and I could contribute to making the tournament even more worthwhile for all the other players.”

While the Official World Golf Ranking system is currently under scrutiny ahead of an overhaul in the near future, getting the most out of any tournament he plays is high on Van Tonder’s priority list as he gets ready to spread his wings.

He is set for his first major championship outing in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, on May 20, and then he will base himself in Europe for pretty much the rest of the year ahead of the Nedbank Golf Challenge back on home soil in November.

“I thought of going to play in the British Masters during the week before the PGA Championship,” said Van Tonder, “but that would have meant a 16-hour flight to England, quarantine, and then, after the tournament, another flight to America.

“So I’m playing all three Challenge Tour events here in South Africa instead. It’s good for me to play on familiar courses in tournament conditions to help me get ready for the PGA Championship.”

Van Tonder is not one to get caught up in the niceties of battling to cope with the different grasses which will confront him in the United States and in his travels around Europe. “Grass is grass,” he laughed during his practice round at Euphoria, “and I take divots out of it, so it doesn’t bother me.”

As he gets his tournament underway this week, he still has world ranking points firmly in his sights. “I’m looking to get into the top 60 in the world, so I can play in the US Open,” he said.

And then he hit his practice approach to within a couple of feet.

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