He started the 2015 Sunshine Tour season with a share of third, and Danie van Tonder needs to reproduce that kind of solid play if he is to challenge for the big incentives on offer in this week’s Investec Cup to be played at Millvale Private Retreat and Lost City at Sun City.
After his good performance in the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February, Van Tonder has missed two cuts in South Africa, and finished 66th in the 70-man field of the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship.
And if there is anyone who can grasp a tournament like the Investec Cup by the scruff of its neck and wring out the last bit of cash from it, it’s Van Tonder – he of the unorthodox swing and the attitude which says golf is a game to played, as opposed to mastered.
The R1-million tournament is the culmination of a year-long quest for points to get into the elite 30-man field which also competes for the lucrative Bonus Pool. The Chase to the Investec Cup started with the Telkom Business PGA Championship and ended with the Tshwane Open.
And then there’s the little matter of the R10-million Bonus Pool. That gets shared amongst the 30 players, with the winner walking off with R3.5-million of that, as Trevor Fisher Jnr did last year.
It’s Van Tonder’s third trip to the finale of the Chase to the Investec Cup – he shared 18th behind winner Jaco van Zyl in 2013, and 19th last year – and he should be in better shape to compete this time around.
That’s assuming he’s found a fix to the golfing woes which have had him not playing at the weekend in the Joburg Open and the Tshwane Open.
He was two-under for the opening three rounds of the Joburg Open, where the cut was at a low four-under-par, but he was six-over at the Tshwane Open and he will want to get those two rounds as far behind him mentally as possible before tackling this week’s tournament.
He has the memories of an extraordinary 2014 to draw one. He won twice, and had a remarkable 12 more finishes inside the top 10, on his way to amassing nearly R3.85-million and only losing out on the Order of Merit race to Thomas Aiken who sank a 10-footer on the final hole of the South African Open Championship to win it.
Those memories, combined with a fearlessness which characterised his dominating season last year, can lift him out of the doldrums – he’s too good a golfer to stay there.