30th March 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Van Tonder drives into Zambia Open lead
While all about him were playing it safe, Daniel van Tonder was using his driver at every opportunity on Saturday on his way to a four-under-par 68 and the 54-hole lead of the Mopani Redpath Greendoor Logistics Zambia Open.
He made six birdies and just two bogeys at Nkana Golf Club which has tested the players to the utmost. In fact, Van Tonder’s round – and Callum Mowat’s 68 – was the lowest of the week and gave him a two-stroke edge over JJ Senekal and Jacques Blaauw going into the final round.
“The biggest thing in my game at the moment is the driver,” said Van Tonder. “I’m hitting driver everywhere which means I’m chipping the whole time. It gives me an advantage over everyone. It’s a short course but it’s very tight. I use driver to hit it as close as possible and from there chip and putt. I’m just having a few bad breaks with the putts on these greens.”
That approach worked especially well on the 18th, where the tee-box was put forward in an attempt to entice the players to go for the pin over the water in front of the green. “Standing on the tee box, my wife actually asked me if I was going to lay up and I said, ‘Well, no! I haven’t laid up once this week.’ I took driver straight at the pin. I hit it a bit too well. I think it bounced close to the pin and just went over the green and over the bunker. I chipped and almost made a nice eagle,” said Van Tonder.
He took the birdie and, together with the one he made on 17, he’ll feel he has the momentum going into Sunday’s play. “Finishing birdie-birdie gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll just take tomorrow as another day. It’s another 18 holes and you have to play the golf course as you find it.”
Senekal came charging through the field with five birdies between the 12th and 17th, a run that was spoiled by a bogey on the 16th. “I started the round hitting the ball very nicely, but couldn’t make a putt to save my life,” he said. “I actually changed my grip halfway through the front nine, and then I started making a couple and got myself back into it.”
Blaauw started with a double bogey on the first, but he picked up four birdies against just one bogey for the rest of his round to move into his share of second. “I’ve been struggling to concentrate solely on the shot at hand,” he said. “On this course, you just have to make peace with the fact that you’re dropping shots. It’s a question of limiting the damage that the course inflicts.”
It won’t stop inflicting damage in the final round.