Daniel van Tonder produced a wonderful run on the back nine to move one clear at a wind-hit RAM Cape Town Open; the second stop in the new co-sanctioned Challenge Tour series in South Africa.
For the second week in a row, it is ‘Van Tonder’ on top of the pile after round round. This round as impressive as any as he kept mistakes off his card en route to his 66.
Last week, he settled for a top 10 at the European Challenge Tour season opening Limpopo Championship but kicked into overdrive on the way in on Thursday at King David Mowbray Golf Club. He recorded three birdies and an eagle during a stunning five hole stretch to move ahead of Englishman Toby Tree.
Both made playing at King David Mowbray count.
‘I’m really pleased to go out and shoot that score in these conditions,’ van Tonder said. ‘I’ve been playing well for a while and I tend to play well in difficult conditions, so I’m happy for this wind to keep coming.
‘My game came together really well today. The greens are really small out here so if you miss one your short game needs to be sharp and I managed to recover nicely today, as well as hitting the ball solid.
‘I’ve been happy with my form for a while now, but I really want to go out there and get a win. This is one of the biggest events on the Tour for us and we wait all year for this stretch of events, so it is a good time to be in form and hopefully I can go out there and win it.’
JC Ritchie, who secured his maiden Challenge Tour victory at the opening event on the Road to Mallorca last week and leads the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit with a few tournaments to play, is two shots off the pace. He sits at four under par alongside Frenchman Damien Perrier, with Italian Aron Zemmer, and Englishmen Mitch Waite and Harry Ellis one shot further back.
Royal Cape Golf Club proved by far the more difficult of the two co-host venues on day one, with a two under par round of 70 the lowest score recorded at the ten-time South African Open host venue.
Van Tonder will continue his title bid at 07:10 at Royal Cape tomorrow, with the 204-player field playing one round at each of the two venues before the top 60 and ties progress through to the weekend at Royal Cape Golf Club.
Last year’s runner-up Jean-Paul Strydom and Neil Schietekat fired 71s at Royal Cape and will be looking to make up ground in round two.