Of the eight South Africans playing in the Challenge Tour’s Barclays Kenya Open at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi, Danie van Tonder is the one who will attract attention after his fine Tshwane Open performance last week.
Van Tonder closed the rainy week in Tshwane with a blistering six-under-par 66 to be the leading South African with his share of second place behind champion Ross Fisher, just three strokes adrift in his best finish in a major South African event since he turned professional late in 2011.
The 2012 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year win more from that performance than he has pocketed in his career to date, and has placed him third in the early Order of Merit running.
When he turned professional, it was widely expected that it was only a matter of time before he turned a fine amateur career into success in the paid ranks. And while his progress has not been too shabby, many would have expected more than his 20th place finish on the 2012 Order of Merit and 26th in 2013.
No-one expected more than he did of himself. “The last two years I haven’t really been on form, but it’s coming together again,” he said after the Tshwane Open. “At the Joburg Open the game was back and I’m playing well again.”
While his game is marvellously varied – he is constantly willing to try something unusual on the golf course in search for a solution to whatever problem confronts him – he was in grerat shape throughout the week at Tshwane.
“Today I was struggling with the driver, maybe not hitting it as well as the last three days, but my chipping and putting was good,” he said.
Highly competitive, he’s after a win in a big way now. “I just want to play in the biggest tournaments I can,” he said. “I just want to win. Mentally I’m strong. I’ve got my cousin on the bag, and we have a good relationship and I trust him on the bag. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
The other South Africans playing Kenya are Jake Roos, Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Shaun Smith, Oliver Bekker, Dylan Frittelli and Hendrik Buhrmann.