TSHWANE, 30 June 2014 – Danie van Tonder’s second Sunshine Tour victory on Friday has added to the growing sense of excitement and anticipation ahead of the IGT Tour’s Race to the USA Championship at Centurion Country Club this week.
The man with the Moe Norman swing finished in the top 10 in all of his 19 starts on the country’s premier development Tour in 2011, and won 10 times before he earned his way onto the Sunshine Tour.
Von Tonder’s IGT record was one of the chief topics of conversation as the IGT Tour players warmed up for the final event in the first Race to the USA series, which tees off on Tuesday.
“That record still stands,” said Pretoria pro, Werner van Niekerk. “I don’t think it will ever be broken, but the IGT Tour was relatively unknown then and the standard is much higher these days.
“I don’t think that record is the big deal, though. It’s what Danie has done with the experience he gained from cutting his teeth on the IGT Tour…that’s gotten the young pros and amateurs so excited.”
Van Tonder won the Sunshine Tour’s Rookie Race with earnings of more than R600,000 in 2011.
He finished 26th in the rankings in 2013 and made more than R700,000 and two victories this year has lifted Van Tonder to second on the current Order of Merit.
“He is earned just shy of R3.4-million,” said Van Niekerk, who played all his junior golf with Van Tonder at Kempton Park Golf Club.
“He turned pro on the IGT Tour around the same time I went to Tuks, but I’ve kept up with his career and so has a lot of IGT Tour players. Danie is a legend on the IGT Tour, because he is proof positive that you can overcome everything with hard work and commitment.”
The BSc Construction Management graduate was impressed by Van Tonder’s comments after his Vodacom Origins of Golf win.
“Danie was always impatient, but he said that he has learned patience. He focusses on consistency now, rather than chasing victories. That’s a hard lesson for most of us when we are in contention, because we want to get aggressive and go for it.
“I think he makes a good point, though. Better to chase consistency than to mess up a string of red numbers by getting frisky in the final round.”
The 23-year-old Wingate Park player admits that he has paid the price for chasing victories.
“I was in contention in eight of my 14 starts this season, but each time I threw it away with a couple of loose holes in the final round,” he said.
“It’s never been more important for me to exercise patience than this week. This is the last tournament in the first Race to the USA Series and we are playing for double points this week.
“I’m lying fifth in the rankings, so I need a win or at least a runner-up finish to finish in the top three and qualify for the trip to the United States.”
Race to the USA Irene champion, Michael Scholz, is also hunting a spot to the USA.
The well-known trick shot specialist and television golfing personality is currently ranked third after a win, a runner-up finish at Modderfontein and a top five at Dainfern.
“You got to be in it to win it,” said Scholz, who cancelled an engagement in Cape Town to tee it up in the finale after doing the permutations.
“It’s all or nothing this week. Huyn Park is more than 2,000 points ahead of me in the Race to the USA, but Lean Boezaart just has a 200 point lead. If I can win or finish second at the worst and Park finishes outside the top five, I clinch my spot. I’m going all out this week.”