Danie van Tonder will be out to consolidate the turnaround in his fortunes which last week’s second-place finish heralded with a similar or better performance in the Zambia Sugar Open which gets underway at Lusaka Golf Club on Thursday.
After a solid-enough start to his year with a share of third at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, he missed cuts at the Joburg Open and the Tshwane Open, and managed just a 66th place in his maiden appearance in a World Golf Championships event at the Cadillac Championship.
But he shared 24th in the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open before roaring though his final round at the Mopani/Redpath Zambia Open last week in 66 to finish second behind Ross McGowan and he took a lot of heart from that performance.
“It’s just golf,” said Van Tonder as he shrugged off a lean streak that stretched back to November. “There are stages when I am playing good golf and then there are stages when I’m struggling a bit – but then after that, I’m better than I was before.”
That’s ominous for many of his competitors, because he was pretty impressive for almost all of 2014, compiling a season record which included two victories and 12 other top-10s.
However, his performance at last year’s Zambia Sugar Open was not amongst that lengthy list of highlights, as he finished in a share of 34th with two rounds of level-par 73 and two of two-over on the 6,608-metre Lusaka Golf Club.
But he’s bullish about this year. “The course is looking very nice,” he said. “The greens look as if they are rolling nicely and the rough looks long, so I think I’m just going to have to hit fairways and greens again. You can’t actually hit a long ball here like you could last year and expect things to be fine.
“After my experience last year, I’m feeling good about my chances this year. I’m feeling good about my golf, and I’m a good adapter to places.”
You’d expect a player who goes through a bad patch to tinker with his game, but such is Van Tonder’s self-belief that he steered clear of change. “I’ve just been doing the same thing over and over,” he said. “You can’t actually change something that works.”
If he’s got better after his brief slump, and if what he’s doing works, he’s going to be tough to beat in Lusaka.