Cape Town - He’s not one for the subtle approach, and it paid off in spades for Daniel van Tonder on Friday in the second round of the R2-million KCB Karen Masters as he fired a seven-under-par 65 to take the halfway lead at Karen Country Club.
His approach flew in the face of conventional wisdom as he took driver off all but two holes and the par-threes on the tight, tree-lined layout, but such was his proficiency with the club that he made eight birdies on his way to his 11-under-par total for the tournament.
“I’m taking driver everywhere,” he shrugged. “I’m not really laying up on any of the holes. It’s more or less a chip and putt this week for me. I took a five-wood twice off the tee-box today because it would have been a bit silly to take driver with out of bounds a problem if you hit it too far.”
He started like a house on fire, with three consecutive birdies on the opening three holes. A bogey on five briefly halted his progress, but he made five more birdies on his way home. That only boosted his normally high confidence levels.
“I’ve been playing well for a while now,” he said. “I am putting well as well. Yesterday I had 23 putts and today I had 24. I battled with the putter quite a bit last year, and tried quite a few of them. But I went back to the old trusty now and I’m putting better than ever.
“I’m not really missing the greens, either. If I do miss them, I’m just off the green. Everything’s going well,” he added.
One shot behind him, first-round leader Merrick Bremner pulled out to 12-under-par by the time he reached the 10th hole, and then things inexplicably went south. A double-bogey six on the 12th – a hole he’d expect to birdie nine times out of 10 – and a bogey four on the 14th – put the skids on what should have been the round to put him out of reach.
“I had a few mishaps with the putter, but that’s just part of golf,” said Bremner. “I misjudged the pace of my approach putt from just off the green on 12. I hit to about six feet, misread that putt and went a foot-and-a-half by. I was so dumbfounded that I was going to make bogey from 10 yards short of the green that my one-and-a-half-foot tap-in bogey putt didn’t touch the hole. So I dropped the coin and knocked it in for six.”
One shot further back, JC Ritchie and Phillip Geerts were lurking on nine-under, with Michael Palmer, Ruan Conradie and Pieter Moolman on eight-under.
The leading Kenyan was Simon Ngige on three-under after his second round of 70. Dismas Indiza was a further shot back.
Bremner, like Van Tonder, is not one to hold back when faced with a risk, so the two of them should put on quite a show over the weekend.
“I’ve been on the tour for a while, so I think it’s time to use my experience,” said Van Tonder.