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Ken Borland

Van Tonder providing free tuition on the art of winning 0

Posted on October 05, 2020 by Ken

Danie van Tonder continued to provide free tuition out on the golf course to his fellow Sunshine Tour pros on the art of winning as he claimed the Vodacom Championship Reloaded title by four strokes at Huddle Park on Friday, his third trophy in the five-event Rise Up Series.

It has been an extraordinary run of form for the 29-year-old, Van Tonder becoming the first player to win three times in one Sunshine Tour season since Oliver Bekker in 2017, and he has certainly learnt how to win with something that is now approaching monotonous regularity.

Going into the final round at Huddle Park with a three-stroke lead after a 40-foot eagle on his last hole in he second round, Van Tonder immediately took control on Friday with a birdie at the par-four first hole. An eagle on the sixth and a birdie on the ninth, the two par-fives, completed the perfect front nine when leading, and he ended the round with a six-under 66, playing immaculate, bogey-free golf.

“Everyone wants to try and win every time they play, I wanted to win five-out-of-five, but it’s very hard in this profession. But I had to teach myself the right mentality on the course, I do get cross but now I try to use that to my advantage, hitting the ball further and straighter. I’m very aggressive out there and I just try and make the impossible possible. I’m very happy because I’ve been working and practising hard and I’ve played good golf,” Van Tonder said on Friday after winning another R95 100, which saw him top the Rise Up Series order of merit by more than R132 000 from second-placed Darren Fichardt, who missed the cut at Huddle Park.

While Van Tonder’s game-plan is to simply overpower golf courses, he also had the gall on Friday to not drop a single shot, in fact he made just one bogey the whole tournament, despite his aggressive approach. It was telling that Jaco Ahlers won the Betway Birdie Challenge for the Rise Up Series, with 79 across the five tournaments, but could only finish second on Friday despite shooting a superb 65. The difference is that while Van Tonder ‘only’ made 77 birdies, he is eliminating the mistakes that separate the winner from the also-rans.

“To have three wins, I have no words, and I knew I had to make birdies today because Jaco played very well. Fortunately I don’t hit the ball so skew, I hit it as hard as I can and straight, and I’ve always made lots of birdies. But I saw that my mistake was making bogeys as well, and so many of those are unnecessary bogeys.

“To shoot 21-under-par shows that I’m not making bogeys, there are always birdies out there. My chipping has also always been good, I have a 63⁰ lob-wedge and when I have that in my hand I feel like I have an 80% chance of chipping in,” Van Tonder said.

Brazilian veteran Adilson da Silva shared second place with Ahlers on 17-under after shooting a 66, while Jacques Blaauw finished in fourth on 16-under and rookie Malcolm Mitchell was one stroke further back after both of them closed with 68s.

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