In February, while playing in the Tshwane Open, Danie van Tonder spoke about his goals for this year. And he ended it off by saying, “I want them to be scared of me when I’m in the field”.
He was referring to his fellow Sunshine Tour professionals.
A few months later, and he is well on his way to achieving this. Van Tonder has won twice in what has easily been his most successful season since he turned professional in 2011.
But he is an equally interesting person.
His swing in highly unorthodox, and a product of the power with which he hits the ball. Even the sound he makes is unorthodox. He describes it as a “snort”. His training is also somewhat unorthodox. Van Tonder likes to box to keep in shape, something he has done since his days in amateur golf.
And it’s a recipe that certainly seems to be working for him.
He finished ninth in the Joburg Open and second in the Tshwane Open this year. Then came his two victories, after which he set his sights on his most ambitious goal yet – a place in the Nedbank Golf Challenge field.
“Playing in the Nedbank Golf Challenge will open a lot of doors for me. You play in that tournament and all of a sudden your name is known worldwide. I’d love to test myself against such a world-class field,” he said.
“I think it would be great to stand alongside those players on the range, with my strange swing and the kind of unorthodox sound I make when I swing. I think it will be fun.”
Van Tonder certainly brings something fresh to the game, and has incredible self-confidence.
When he made his debut in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour this year, he declared his intentions with the words, “When you play in a field like this, it feels like you belong. There have been some players who keep an eye on the Sunshine Tour and have remarked about my progress. Sure, this is the highest quality field I’ve ever played in. But I don’t think of it that way. It doesn’t intimidate me. You’ve got to be confident in your game. So I’m here to win.”
And he’ll bring that same approach to his debut in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.