The 30-year-old South African knew about his Open Championship debut only on July 4 when he was called in as a replacement for Joo-hyung Kim.
That was based on his position at 77th on the world rankings, where he has been on a steady rise after starting last year not even in the leading 300.
Van Tonder won four times on his home Sunshine Tour in 2020 – all in the space of 10 weeks, in fact – and this March added the European Tour’s Kenya Savannah Classic by beating Jazz Janewattananond at the third hole of a play-off after they had both closed with rounds of 64.
It came two weeks after he was a runner-up at the Players Championship in Johannesburg, even though he started that sudden death shoot-out with an eagle. Jaco Prinsloo matched him and won two holes later.
A month later Van Tonder was involved in another play-off for the Limpopo Championship, Brandon Stone denying him there.
He is a seven-time Sunshine Tour winner in total, his first victory coming after a further play-off at the 2014 Investec Royal Swazi Open.
His first major appearance was May’s PGA Championship and he tied for 44th at Kiawah Island.