Danie’s dominant rookie season

Danie van Tonder’s share of second at Selborne Park Golf Club bolstered his lead in the Rookie of the Year race, but his new category 12 ranking is what should really be drawing your attention.

Second place was enough to boost the21-year-old to 28th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, and his new category means that pre-qualifying is unnecessary, at least until the co-sanctioned events begin later this year.

While Brazilian Adilson da Silva claimed his 10th career win, van Tonder had just carded his second 67 of the tournament, which led to a cool R58,500 cheque. It took his total earnings for the year to R327,348.

The youngster is familiar with second-place finishes – he started the season with a share of second at the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School. His biggest cheque to date came at the Investec Royal Swazi Open, where he netted R93,200 for his second-place result.

He has seized every opportunity to perform, starting with the Africa Open in January, where he took home a share of 29th. Since then he’s been one of the most successful rookies in the Sunshine Tour’s history, taking four top-10 finishes and recording a stroke average of 70.38.

And the future looks even brighter now that the Ebotse professional has secured his exemption into nearly every event on the schedule.

That’s really what makes his success so impressive – before every event this season he has had to qualify. And at Selborne he showed just how classy a golfer he is, shooting 69 to qualify and then taking a share of second, just one shot away from forcing a playoff.

Fellow rookie Riekus Nortje has also moved into category 12, based on his three Sunshine Big Easy Tour wins. It sets up a great rivalry for the future, but one gets the feeling that the momentum lies with van Tonder.

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