Van Tonder’s gamble takes him out of contention in Cazoo Classic

Aug 15, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

As Daniel van Tonder does, he stepped up to the 13th tee on Sunday at London Golf Club in the final round of the Cazoo Classic on the European Tour, and he pulled driver on the par-four hole that had been shortened to just over 275 yards.

With water on the right of the green, and having moved to 11-under-par for the tournament, you’d think he’d go for the safer option which would at least probably give him a chance of going to 12-under, rather than the ‘hail Mary’ option. But if you thought that, then you don’t know Van Tonder at all.

So driver it was, even though he was closing in on the leaders – or maybe because he was closing in on the leaders. And, as he hit it, he looked anxiously after it and pointed right in vain as the ball arced towards the water and dropped into it, well away from the green.

He picks up the story. “I dropped the ball in the drop zone and then spun that ball into the water. Then I hit the next one over the green, hit a chip from there and made a two-putt for an eight.”

After three birdies and an eagle – and a bogey – and four-under for the round, he was suddenly back to level-par, with only five holes to play, there was not much he could do to put pressure on those playing behind him my posting a good score. Still, he made two birdies on his way in and signed for a two-under 70, a tournament total of nine-under, and a share of 21st.

In the end, it was a maiden European Tour title for Scot Calum Hill, nerveless down the stretch as he finished with a five-under 67 to move to 16-under for the tournament and a one-stroke win over France’s Alexander Levy.

The other South African who made the cut was Justin Walters, and he closed with a two-under 70 to share 40th at six-under.

And, in the back of Van Tonder’s mind is the thought that, had he just made par on 13, he would have been four strokes better off. That would have been 13-under, just three behind Hill.

But he won’t change. It’s not in his golfing DNA. And thank goodness for that!

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