By Michael Vlismas (@MichaelVlismas)
He grunts when he hits the ball. He boxes to keep fit. At times he sounds like he’s speaking in riddles. But Danie van Tonder (@DanieVanTonder_) is every bit the serious contender on the Sunshine Tour this season. And this week he’s looking for a third win this year.
Van Tonder is the man to catch as the Sunshine Tour heads to Arabella Country Club for the Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung.
His victory in the opening tournament on this year’s Vodacom Origins of Golf series put him firmly in second place on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit behind England’s Ross Fisher.
But with Fisher having only played two tournaments on the Sunshine Tour this season, and not the minimum of seven required to qualify for the local Order of Merit, Van Tonder knows he currently occupies the top spot on the Tour.
Yes, it’s during the winter portion of the Tour, with the biggest tournaments and biggest names scheduled for the end of the year.
But it’s still the top spot, and Van Tonder is hardly a man short on self-belief.
In February, when he finished second in the European Tour co-sanctioned Tshwane Open, Van Tonder summed up his goals for this year by saying, “I want the other pros to be scared of me when I’m in the field”.
A few months later, with Van Tonder having won twice this season, made over R3.3 million, and missed only one cut since February, he’s certainly got his fellow professionals’ attention.
But when the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung tees off at Arabella on Wednesday, Van Tonder will be dealing with an amazing run of consistency from a number of players.
Since his second-place finish in the Telkom Business PGA Championship in April, where he lost an epic five-hole playoff to Titch Moore, Ulrich van den Berg has had four top-10s in six events.
Jacques Blaauw is also becoming one of the most consistent performers on the Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung. He won twice on the series last year, and started this year’s series with a finish of fifth at Euphoria.
And Keith Horne heads to Arabella with top-10s in two of his last three events.