Van Powers To Large Lead In Houghton Open

Danie Van Tonder locked up an almost unassailable lead on day two of the IGT Tour’s Houghton Open and the three-time Sunshine Tour champion is fired up to go pin hunting in Wednesday’s final round.  Precision wedges and great lines from fiancée and caddie Abigail Jacobs helped the Benoni player to a flawless eight under 64.  He set the 36-hole target at Houghton Golf Club at 15-under-par 129 and leads by eight shots from American Zachary Portemont and fellow Sunshine Tour campaigners Russel Franz and Teboho Sefatsa.

Van Tonder says:  ‘I’m not done yet.  I’m not going to hold back in the final round just because I have a huge cushion.  I have a target to break.  It is really great to be play the way I was playing in 2014 when I was leading the Chase to the Investec Cup.  This year, I didn’t even come close to qualifying.  It’s taken me nearly a year and all of my patience to break the slump.  I shot 61 in the final round of the GMC Doubles last week and finished the tournament at 20 under, so that’s the score I want to beat.’  Van Tonder followed birdies at the first and the third with five straight pars, but set the back nine alight with birdies at 12, 14, 15, 16 and 18.  Van Tonder says:  ‘It could have been even better, because I missed two five-footers for birdies at four and five, and another short one at 13.  That birdie at 10 definitely gave me momentum and my wedges and the putter did the rest.  I hit my tee shot left at 12, but I had a good line to the pin and I hit a nine-iron to five feet and holed the putt for birdie.  The approach at 14 finished a three feet from the hole.  At 15 I was on the green in two and two-putted and at 16, I hit an eight-iron from 160 metres to five feet.  I hit a solid drive at 17 and I had 60 metres to the pin, but I caught the slope with my approach and the ball rolled all the way down.’

Van Tonder split the fairway at 18 with a five-wood, parked his approach six feet from the pin and holed the putt for birdie at the last.  He says:  ‘Abigail did a great on the lines and we got the job done, so I’m pretty pleased.  It feels so great to firing at the pins again.  I’ve been working with Graeme Frances from the GFG Academy for a few weeks know.  We didn’t touch my swing, but we concentrated on my mental approach and I haven’t been in such a good head space for a very long time.  Graeme got me to start feeling positive and confident again, so I’m going to ride this for all it’s worth, because I have that winning feeling again.’  Van Tonder’s low round early in the day didn’t stay unbeaten.

Tyrone Mordt fired a nine under 63 to surge to a tie for sixth on five under with Juan Langeveld and Irvin Mazibuko, while Drikus Van Der Walt matched the leader’s 64 to grab a seat on the nine-man bus at four under.  

SECOND ROUND SCORES

All competitors are RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs are indicated AMA:

129 – Danie Van Tonder 65 64
137 – Zachary Portemont USA 72 65, Russel Franz 65 72, Teboho Sefatsa 70 67
138 – Dean O’Riley 69 69
139 – Tyrone Mordt 76 63, Juan Langeveld 71 68, Irvin Mazibuko 67 72
140 – Damian Naicker 66 74, Dayne Moore (ZAM) 72 68, Oliver Bekker 71 69, Anton Haig 70 70, Breyten Meyer 69 71, Jeff Inglis ENG 73 67, Drikus Van Der Walt 76 64, Cameron Esau 73 67, Francois Coetzee 72 68

Photo credit: CJ Du Plooy