Daniel van Tonder claimed his second victory on the Sunshine Tourâ€™s new Rise-Up Series when he won the Vodacom Championship Unlocked by one stroke at ERPM Golf Club on Friday.
Van Tonder closed with a final round of 67 to win on 13 under par 203, one clear of MJ Viljoen. Viljoen had led for 36 holes of this 54-hole tournament but was unable to maintain his challenge. Viljoen did make for a close finish though as he needed a birdie at the last to force a playoff, but had to settle for a par instead and a closing 73. Pieter Moolman took third place on 11 under par with a final round of 67.
This is Van Tonderâ€™s second victory on the Series following his triumph in the African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship.
â€œIt feels awesome. Iâ€™ve been putting in a lot of hard work and just doing my own thing. My whole game from tee to green feels good, and I think that just comes from the all the practice Iâ€™ve been doing,â€ said Van Tonder, who said he would like to use his victory to raise awareness for mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that his wifeâ€™s grandfather has recently been diagnosed with.
Van Tonder started the final round five shots off Viljoenâ€™s lead and birdied his first two holes to make an immediate impact. He was back to level par for the day through his first seven holes though. But then came a run of five birdies in eight holes that effectively carried him to victory.
â€œIt was fun out there. The wind was blowing quite a bit, but I had checked the weather the night before so I expected it to blow. In a way I was looking forward to it because I knew that in the wind, five shots back wouldnâ€™t be too much to make up. My game is suited to the wind and I play quite aggressively when itâ€™s blowing,â€ he said.
Jaco Ahlers still leads the Betway Birdie Challenge through four tournaments on the Rise-Up Series with 57 birdies. The Betway Birdie Challenge will run for the full five tournaments on the series, with the leading birdie maker walking away with R25Â 000 at the end of the series, followed by R15Â 000 for second place and R10Â 000 for third.
And Ahlers was himself full of praise for Van Tonderâ€™s performance on this Series to date.
â€œI think weâ€™ll see a lot more from Daniel. Heâ€™s such a good ball striker. His swing is his own, but he repeats it so well and thatâ€™s what you need.â€ – Michael Vlismas.