He carded a six-under-par 66 at the Eye of Africa layout to go with his opening 67 to pull clear of Andrew Curlewis, and he was a further stroke ahead of Jbe’ Kruger and Jaco van Zyl who finished the delayed second round on Saturday to move to nine-under-par.
Van Tonder, who had a quiet 2015 after the lofty standards he set himself with his year in 2014, seems to be returning to the kind of form which saw him finish second on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. “I’ve been hitting the ball quite well for a number of months now,” he said. “Just all of a sudden I’m making a few birdies and pars out there. And I’m hitting the ball straight. I haven’t really been working on my putting. It’s just the nature of golf that you’ll go through a bad patch. I went through mine and it looks like I’m coming through again.”
Curlewis got to 11-under on Saturday morning after making birdie on 17, but he dropped a shot on the final hole – possibly as a result of rushing to get to the course for the restart. “I set my alarm for half-past-three and I missed it,” he said. “Luckily the guy I am staying with woke me up at half-past-four. So it was a bit of a rush but we made it in time.”
Kruger scored well for his four-under-par 68, but felt he could have gone lower if his putter had worked better. “I think I’m hitting it well enough,” he said. “It’s just, like I said yesterday, I must just get the putter going. I had 31 and 30 putts for nine-under, so I’m hitting it pretty well.”
Van Zyl, who is a two-time champion in the event, signed for a bogey-free five-under 67 to move into contention. “I got it going nice and early yesterday,” he said, “and got a bit stuck in neutral on the back nine. It’s always nice to have a bogey-free round, and I don’t think I’ve ever had two in a row.”
Doing that a third time is something Van Zyl will be trying. So will the leader. “I am playing as aggressively as I always do,” said Van Tonder. “I’m giving myself more birdie opportunities. I’m putting well, so if I give myself opportunities I’m going to make birdies. But I’m not going to do something stupid out there over the weekend.”