In the Player Blog of the European Tour, Daniel Van Tonder reflects on 10 years as a professional, breaking through for his first European Tour win, and his relationship with his wife and caddie, Abi. "It doesn’t feel like 10 years since I turned professional, time has really flown, but I feel I’ve learnt so much in that time before making it onto the European Tour.
I turned pro in 2011 and back then Q-School was in December so 2012 was my first year on the Sunshine Tour, and I really enjoyed my time. But it also taught me a lot about myself, and helped me find myself, and I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to spend eight of those years my wife Abi on the bag.
We’ve won together, earned my European Tour card and recently played in our first Major. And most of the credit has to go to my wife, because I wouldn’t have done any of it without her"
Daniel Van Tonder, statements
"She is such a big part of my game.
I actually met her at the co-sanctioned Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban in 2014, and she was working at the driving range. She always wanted to be in golf, and she’s a good player and everything, and once we were together she enjoyed being out on the course with me, so we decided together that she could try it at the end of 2015.
And she’s great: She does the yardages, 90% of the time she does club selection – so all the birdies I make are because of her when I listen, and the bogeys are when I don’t. She even helps with my swing, which I know is quite unique.
I’m actually self-taught, have never had a coach and do everything on my own – with a little help from her. She knows my swing well, and I’m not a very technical person, I just like sticking to the basics, so usually when I struggle she helps me quickly.
It’s pretty much always been that way, ever since I started playing golf when I was about 12 years old. My parents were the ones who forced me into it, and then just time went on and I just taught myself. I don't think any child would enjoy practicing from eight in the morning until five in the evening over playing games and chilling, so for a while I didn’t enjoy it, and then after a while you just see it as your way out of a not so good situation.
And then you start enjoying it because it’s your away time from certain things, and you keep on working. By the time I finished school early I loved it and from the age of 16 I played golf full time, and then made National Colours Juniors and Senior Colours. In all of that time, I always felt more comfortable coaching myself"