Wednesday, 30 September 2020 20:14

Photo Credit:Carl Fourie.

Daniel van Tonder continued his dominance of the Sunshine Tour's Rise-Up Series as he opened with a nine-under-par 63 including two eagles to lead the first round of the Vodacom Championship Reloaded at Huddle Park Golf Club on Wednesday.

Van Tonder is one clear of Christiaan Basson and Louis de Jager, and with two rounds to go he is on track to claim his third victory on the five-tournament Rise-Up Series.

"Everything about my game just feels really good at the moment. I'm very happy. I played simple golf again. I hit driver a lot and gave myself chances to hit wedges close to the pins. I made one bogey on the par-three third hole where I hit it over the green, but after that I made a few birdies and two eagles so I'm quite happy," he said.

Musiwalo Nethunzwi is only two shots off the lead after opening with a 65, while young star Jayden Schaper is in contention once again after signing for a 66.

But Van Tonder is playing with such confidence at the moment that it would be hard to see past him adding a third title on the series this week.

"I think it helps that I've got some good sponsors behind me now, and that takes a lot of pressure off. I can go out there and play my golf," he said.

His confidence shone through in his two eagles. On the par-five sixth hole he hit a seven iron to 10 feet from the hole and holed the putt. And then on the par-five 14th he lipped out with a lob wedge for an albatross, leaving him a tap-in for eagle there.

"The wind was blowing quite a bit, but for some reason the worse the weather gets the better it is for me. I like it tough," he said.

As much as he's pleased with his current form, Van Tonder believes he's playing to the kind of potential he's always believed he's had.

"I've always felt that I want to be one of South Africa's best golfers. I just want to get overseas and prove myself, and I feel like I'm just working towards getting that chance to go over there."

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Meanwhile the Sunshine Tour has officially announced that Thomas Abt will assume the role of Commissioner of the Tour as of 1 October 2020.

Current Commissioner Selwyn Nathan will remain as Deputy Chairman of the Sunshine Tour and will serve as Executive Director of the Tour for the duration of the handover to Abt.

Abt was appointed as the Deputy Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour in February 2018 and as eventual successor to Nathan in the role of Commissioner.

The announcement forms part of a restructuring of the Sunshine Tour as part of the Board's vision to usher in a new era in its history.

Sunshine Tour Tournament Director Ludwick Manyama has been appointed as the new Transformation Manager of the Tour, while Pauli van Meersbergen, Tournament Director on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, has been appointed General Manager of the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

The Sunshine Tour's leadership sees the departure of Grant Wilson, the Chief Operating Officer, after 17 years and Theo Manyama, Tournament Director and globally respected rules official, after 39 years. Both have taken retirement packages.