Danie van Tonder produced his fourth successive round in the 60s at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club when he carded an eight-under-par 64 on Friday in the first round of the Lombard Insurance Classic to take a share of the lead.
He won the Investec Royal Swazi Open two weeks ago with his final three rounds there 67-65-63, and he produced more of the same in a round which included an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey, and which put him together with Michael Hollick atop the leaderboard.
“The game is good,” said Van Tonder. “I’m striking the ball well, chipping it well, scrambling it well – and the trick here is hitting fairways. I’m getting it on the green enough to give myself a lot of birdie chances. You just have to miss greens in the right places here because then it’s quite easy to get up and down.”
The problem for Van Tonder’s pursuers is that there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for this run of form which has given him five top-10 finishes on the 2014 Sunshine Tour in addition to his victory in nine tournaments so far this year.
Hollick matched Van Tonder on the day on 64, but he has not produced anything like the consistency that Van Tonder has. “It’s been a couple of tournaments since I’ve featured,” he said. “I’ve just been scraping through, making the cut – being there but not quite there – so it’s nice to have posted a good score.”
Behind the leading pair, rookie Callum Mowat (right) and CJ du Plessis each carded fine six-under-par 66s. Mowat is rapidly coming to grips with the vicissitudes of professional golf, and while he castigated himself for three bogeys, he now knows enough to be pleased with his score and to go in search of a few birdies more in the second round.
Du Plessis has seen his game trending upwards, and he came into the Swaziland event on the back of a share of sixth in last week’s Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open. “I suppose it’s just confidence,” he said. “I’ve been playing well, and most of all I’ve just given myself a chance every single time I play.”
It’s going to take a lot to keep Van Tonder in sight. He’s single-minded in his approach to the game, and he expects to play well every time he goes out there – and then better the next time. “The win I got two weeks ago is in the past,” he said. “I want to win now. I’m not going to worry about anything. I want to shoot 10-under tomorrow – that will make things easy.”