Danie van Tonder (@DanieVanTonder_) has produced 18 top 10s, six runner-up results and a victory in his two and a half years on the Sunshine Tour, so it was no surprise when moved within one stroke of the lead on Wednesday at the first tournament of the Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung.
“Going through all of this is fun, it’s different. You try to just go out and play. My game has always been good enough, it’s just about peaking at the right time. I want to do as well as I can at each tournament and win if I can,” he said.
The reigning Investec Royal Swazi Open champion shot 67 at the Annika Sorenstam-designed course for a five-under-par total, which put him within touching distance of leader Justin Harding.
“The par fives are long and you definitely have to hit good tee shots,” said Van Tonder. “But for the rest it’s all about short game. If you miss the greens it’s crucial to make those up and downs.”
The 23-year-old has been in contention at the highest level and finished second to Ross Fisher at the Tshwane Open in February. His breakthrough came three months later at the Swazi Open and he tied for second at the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open a week later.
On Wednesday the towering Van Tonder continued to threaten after he shot a 32-stroke back nine for a share of second alongside Charl Coetzee.
Harding began the day with a bogey, but took it in his stride and went on to birdie seven of the next 10 holes. He reached the clubhouse in six-under-par 66 and savoured his return to the top.
“I had a good result in Zambia and it’s nice to be back up there. There are two more rounds left and if I can keep going then anything can happen. It’s been a while since I last won and I could do with a victory!” he said.
Pre-qualifier Ross Wellington navigated his way around in 68 blows to take up fourth place. He was soon joined by Jacques Blaauw, Keith Horne and Adilson da Silva.
Brazil’s Da Silva finished second at Euphoria last year, but the conditions back then were entirely different and the winning total was eight-under-par. Like Horne and Blauuw, Da Silva is a multiple winner on the Sunshine Tour and will surely contend come Thursday.