Daniel van Tonder carried on smiling his way through his debut appearance in the Open Championship when he carded a second round of four-under-par 66 on Friday in the final major championship of the year being played at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent.
He moved to six-under for the tournament, certain to make the cut and play the weekend and give himself a chance of improving on his share of 44th in the PGA Championship which was his first major.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I left a few putts out there, but it was consistent. I was in trouble a few times but I managed to muscle it out there, so I recovered well.”
He spent his first four holes making substantial putts to save par, and then he dropped a shot on the fifth. But he never stopped looking as if he was having the time of his life as he mugged for TV cameras when he saw them, and chatted animatedly with wife Abi who is on his bag.
He regained his dropped shot with a birdie on eight, and turned for home level-par. He picked up two more shots on 12 and 14, before signing off with a flourish with consecutive birdies on 17 and 18.
He was happy to have very benign conditions in the morning of the second round, but he pointed out that things could change in that regard. “I can’t ask for much more than I’m getting from the conditions,” he said. “In golf, you can’t just say you want this or that from the weather. You just go out and play and as long as the wind keeps on blowing, I’m very happy about that.”
It’s been a wild ride for Van Tonder, with four Sunshine Tour titles in just over two months in late 2020 after golf returned from the COVID-19 hiatus, and then a maiden European Tour title in the Kenya Savannah Classic in March.
He has enjoyed the ride with the chance it has brought for him to play on the world’s biggest golf stages. “Now I’m here for the weekend, I’m just enjoying every moment,” he said.