- Daniel van Tonder is eager to get his Sunshine Tour season underway at this week's Players Championship in Midrand.
- Van Tonder will be hoping to replicate his stellar 2020 season, which saw him capture four Sunshine Tour titles.
- The 29-year-old hopes to regain some confidence this week as he builds towards an exciting year of golf.
This week, golf fans will be treated to a Players Championships double on the PGA Tour and Sunshine Tour.
The action at Dainfern Country Club is the Sunshine Tour's first 72-hole event after last week's Kit Kat Group Pro-Am.
139 golfers will compete for the Players Championship title and will be vying for a prize fund of R1 million.
In a contrast to last week's 72-man field, this week is the first Sunshine Tour event of the season for many, including seven-time tour winner Daniel van Tonder.
Van Tonder had a prolific 2020 when the Sunshine Tour emerged from the hard lockdown in August last year, winning three of the five Rise-Up Series tournaments and then adding the Royal Swazi Open title in October.
He became the first professional to win back-to-back on the Sunshine Tour since Justin Harding in 2018, and the first to win three tournaments on the Tour since Oliver Bekker in 2017.
During the lockdown, Van Tonder took a new approach to nutrition and lost 20 kilogrammes. It was one of many aspects that made Van Tonder so successful, which saw him only miss two cuts in 16 events.
Speaking to Sport24 ahead of Thursday's opening round, Van Tonder credits his wife and caddie Abigail as an important part of his success.
"The team was the most important thing, I have my wife on the bag and she's my support in everything and we worked together and it just happened. I just had the confidence and trust in my ability," he said.
With the Sunshine Tour rescheduling their 2021 season to start in March, Van Tonder finally got his year off in Florida at the prestigious World Golf Championship-Workday Championship, where he finished 71st.
The 29-year-old acknowledges that his year hasn't started off smoothly but he is excited to get back to playing consecutive tournaments.
"It's not been too bad, we were in the States playing the WGC and then came back a few days ago, I've just been practising and looking forward to the tournaments."
After capturing four Sunshine Tour wins last year, Van Tonder will be the man to watch and insists that his approach to the game is quite simple.
"Every tournament that I play, I don't plan to lose. I try and win but just the fact that I'm going out playing well and winning, which was a nice thing to happen. I was very happy about that."
However, Van Tonder says that this week it was all about getting back his confidence up after being golf-deprived for three months.
"The more tournaments you play after each other, the more you get into the zone so the consistency of playing again is big," he said.
"It's just about getting my confidence again. Having three months off and no tournament time, it doesn't make you trust as much because you build your trust in playing in tournaments. I've been working on every aspect of my golf for this week from putting to the long-range so I'm looking good."
Following the Players Championship, Van Tonder will fly to Nairobi on an invitation to compete in the European Tour's Kenya Open.
It's an event that Van Tonder is eager to conquer to get an elusive European Tour card.
"It's hard to go overseas because we only have that one week at qualifying school to get our card. If we have one bad day, we have no chance of getting our card," he said.
"I'm hoping to get invites to some European Tour events because the more events I play, I can get enough points to get in on the European Tour.
"We got an invitation to one of the Kenyan events that's one next week and that's a European Tour event so I want to try and win that and then we have our card."
SuperSport will provide live coverage of the third and fourth round of the Players Championship at Dainfern. Broadcasting is scheduled to start at 12:00.
Featured Round 1 groupings:
07:00 - Jacques Kruyswijk, Jaco Van Zyl, James Hart du Preez
08:00 - Nikhil Rama, Matthew Spacey, Jake Redman
11:20 - Ulrich van den Berg, Adilson Da Silva, Jaco Ahlers
11:30 - Sean Bradley, Oliver Bekker, Thriston Lawrence
11:50 - Dylan Naidoo, Daniel van Tonder, Doug McGuigan
12:00 - JC Ritchie, Philip Geerts, Alex Haindl