European Tour

'Hard work pays off' for Daniel van Tonder after stunning European Tour win

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Daniel van Tonder wins Kenya Savannah Classic (Getty Images)
Daniel van Tonder wins Kenya Savannah Classic (Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin
  • South African golfer Daniel van Tonder is delighted his hard work is paying off following his playoff win at the Kenya Savannah Classic.
  • Van Tonder hailed his "winning combination" with his caddie and wife, Abigail after clinching his maiden European Tour title.
  • He acknowledged that he would never have found his success at Karen Country Club if it wasn't for the Sunshine Tour. 

South African golfer Daniel van Tonder is ecstatic to receive his European Tour card following his playoff win at the Kenya Savannah Classic last week Friday.

Van Tonder birdied the final hole to card a seven-under 64 to join Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond on 21-under par and force a playoff.

After both players parred the first two playoff holes, Van Tonder kept calm on the third and converted his short birdie putt to seal his maiden European Tour title.

"I'm a bit different. I love pressure; if there's pressure, I get more in the zone," Van Tonder told reporters in a press conference on Friday.

"For me, I tried to keep it as easy as possible - hit the fairway first, then the second, put the other player under pressure and see what happens from there. I took it shot-by-shot and it worked."

It was Van Tonder's fifth win in eight months after sealing four Sunshine Tour titles last year.

Van Tonder, who is a seven-time Sunshine Tour winner, credited the local tour for his win.

"The Sunshine Tour is very good. Competition is very strong. Scores are usually very low, you have to go low. If it wasn't for the Sunshine Tour, I don't think I would have done this - very happy with that, and a thank you to them."

Earlier this month, Van Tonder admitted to Sport24 that he was eying a European Tour card in Kenya. And following Friday's triumph at Karen Country Club, the 30-year-old was delighted to see his hard work pay off.

"I felt at the first tournament (Kenya Open) I wasn't swinging it as well or trusting my shape. I missed the cut by one... I didn't let that get us down, I worked hard in the few days and it worked this week," he said.

"I've been working hard. Last year, I had four wins on the Sunshine Tour, my stroke average was quite low - then Covid happened and it made everything a bit hard travel-wise and getting into tournaments. It wasn't easy. I had to work hard and keep myself motivated. It paid off, so I'm very happy."

Van Tonder became the second South African to win in a week after Justin Harding claimed his second European Tour victory at the Kenya Open.

His win in Nairobi earned him 145 670 (R2.5 million) and saw him jump 67 places in the World Golf Rankings to now lie 73rd place.

Van Tonder stated that he was excited about the new chapter in his career after securing his European Tour card for the season.

"It's very exciting. We've been working hard. It took a while, but it came and I'm very happy - my wife is over the moon. I've been waiting for a while and finally it came..."

Van Tonder's wife Abigail has been on his bag for seven years, and he credited his better half for her calming presence in high-pressure situations.

"It was very special. She's been on the bag for seven years. She's been with me through thick and thin. It was very special to see the highs coming together and sharing them.

"I had the two bogeys in a row, two big fliers - I don't know how - but luckily my wife is on the bag and she kept me calm and reminded me of a few things, and it worked... I love my wife, she's the rock. She keeps me calm, makes me positive in everything."

The European Tour is on a week-long break and will resume with the first major of the year, Masters at Augusta National on 8-11 April.

Van Tonder says that he plans to get all his documentation in order before the first regular European Tour event, which starts on 15-18 April at the Austria Open.

"We're flying back home to South Africa. Then we have a few weeks off to try and sort out our visas and see where we can go when tournaments start again and just be ready for the next European Tour event," said Van Tonder.

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