By Michael Vlismas (@MichaelVlismas)
There were no floating butterflies or stinging bees. Medicine wasn’t getting sick, and rocks weren’t being murdered. But 23-year-old Danie van Tonder (@DanieVanTonder_) was like a Muhammad Ali of golf as he spoke of his desire to make a breakthrough in this weekend’s Telkom Business PGA Championship.
After a second round of 69 for a 36-hole total of eight under par, four strokes behind the leader Wynand Dingle(@WynanDingle), Van Tonder bobbed and weaved through his post-round press conference as he explained his desire to start flexing his muscles following a two-year period of settling in on the Sunshine Tour.
Despite the discomfort of having to settle into things on Tour, he was the Sunshine Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2012. He had to pre-qualify for just about everything that year, but he made it through the tough pre-qualifiers an incredible 14 times, and missed another two in play-offs.
But still he says, “Those first two years on Tour were a bit up-and-down. I’d have four rounds with one low round and three average rounds. Now I’m not scared of anything. I’m feeling positive and comfortable out here. I believe in myself.”
He finished ninth in the Joburg Open and second in the Tshwane Open this year, and heads into the weekend chasing another young golfer also brimming with confidence.
The 29-year-old Dingle and Van Tonder are the youngsters on a leaderboard featuring Ulrich van den Berg and George Coetzee at nine-under, and Merrick Bremner in a group on eight under.
And you get a sense they’re prepared to arm wrestle each other for this one if necessary, as there is no shortage of confidence from either. Especially not Van Tonder, who on the driving range often lets out a grunt like a prizefighter delivering a knockout blow as he crushes the golf ball in his trademark fashion.
Asked if he plans to play even more aggressively on the weekend, Van Tonder replied, “Yes. Never change, whether I’m six behind or leading. If I’m leading I want to win by as much as possible. I love it. I want to set some records. I want to know who the guy is who won this tournament by 10 or 15 shots. I want them to be scared of me.”
“Tiger van Tonder?” suggested someone in the media centre.