While Danie van Tonder’s 2014 goal is winning the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, he would do well to look over his shoulder in the 2015 Chase to the Investec Cup where he holds a slender lead of fewer than five points at the top of the table.
And the man chasing him is the man defending his title in this week’s R800,000 BMG Classic at Glendower Golf Club, Ulrich van den Berg, so he’s going to have to continue his extraordinary season of 11 top-10 finishes (so far) to ward off any challenge to his top spot.
And, with slightly more points than usual for the Chase to the Investec Cup available in the tournament with 144 players in the field (150 for the win), a victory would do a lot for Van Tonder in his attempt to consolidate his position in the year-long chase which culminates in the top 30 players competing in the Investec Cup tournament for the lion’s share of the lucrative R10-million Bonus Pool.
Last week’s Sunshine Tour winner Titch Moore, who took the inaugural Sun Boardwalk Challenge, is currently in third place in the Chase to the Investec Cup after playing in 14 tournaments – compared to Van Tonder’s 13, but he’s too far back for even a victory in the BMG Classic to be able to lift him above Van Tonder, or even Van den Berg.
Of the three, only Van Tonder is yet to win the BMG Classic: Moore won it in 2002 when it was called the Bearing Man Highveld Classic and it was played at the Witbank Golf Club, and Van den Berg cruised to a five-stroke win over Moore and Hennie Otto last year.
Van Tonder is not the only player in the trio with an impressive haul of top-10s this year: Van den Berg has 10 such finishes, including a marathon play-off defeat to Moore in the Telkom Business PGA Championship in April, while Moore, who, like Van Tonder, has two wins, has five.
For Van Tonder, using the BMG Classic to keep his nose in front in the Chase to the Investec Cup would be a smart tactic in his pursuit of winning the Order of Merit.