FedExCup update: Erik van Rooyen continues late season push
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Written by Jim McCabe @PGATOUR
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Study Erik van Rooyen’s significant progress on the comeback trail not just by what he did in Saturday’s third round of THE NORTHERN TRUST (with a 62 he vaulted from T-17 to solo third). Instead, focus on the FedExCup standings.
Just a few weeks ago the 31-year-old from South Africa via the University of Minnesota was 139th in the points list, and there couldn’t have been many folks in his camp thinking, “hey, let’s make sure we leave our plans open for the TOUR Championship September 2-5.”
Well, it’s proper to put that in the conversation right now because from winning the Barracuda Championship August 8 to assure his berth in the FedExCup Playoffs, van Rooyen has projected himself well into prime landscape. With birdies at 16 and 17 Saturday to put an exclamation point on an inward 30, van Rooyen pushed to 15-under 198 and is third, just one behind the co-leaders, Cameron Smith and Jon Rahm.
With Sunday’s fourth round postponed until Monday because of fast-approaching Hurricane Henri, van Rooyen can sit and study this: Having come to Liberty National in 76th place in the FedExCup standings, he is projected to be in 25th place. Top 70 advance to next week’s BMW Championship; top 30 make the TOUR Championship.
“Just stoked,” said the unheralded van Rooyen, who is ranked 79th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He was describing not his FedExCup rise, which is stunning, but his blistering 62, which was equally impressive. “I hit the ball great and then when you add (a great day putting), good things happen. I’m really, really happy.”
That his third round began with a bogey certainly didn’t offer a hint about what was to come, which sort of captures van Rooyen’s season in a capsule. He’s missed the cut in 10 of his 24 starts, which included four straight back in May.
“Up-and-down, definitely,” said van Rooyen. “Lots of down. I’ve only sort of found my feet the last month or so, and I saw a glimpse of it (in June, when he advanced through a U.S. Open qualifier). I hung on to that and it’s coming through now.”
At a most opportune time, for sure, because just weeks removed from basically seeing his 2020-21 season finished, van Rooyen is seriously in the mix for a FedExCup Playoff with heavyweights such as Rahm, Smith, Justin Thomas, and Tony Finau.
Pretty fast company for a guy roaring in from on the fast track.
NOTES: Curious third round, to be sure. While a healthy list of 17 rounds at 66 or better was recorded, none of them belonged to a player who was in any of the final five pairings. Of those 10 names, only Rahm, Thomas and Tom Hoge shot 67, Finau and Brooks Koepka had 68, and four others shot 70 . . . . . Jordan Spieth followed his second-round 62 with a 72, falling from T-10 to T-34 . . . . . Rory McIlroy shot 66, pushed into a tie for 40th, and while that’s hardly up to his standards, he thinks he has established a game plan for Liberty National’s par 5s. “I’m just going to lay up and try to make birdies with wedges,” he said. Don’t laugh, because McIlroy trying to reach them all in two shots, has played the three par 5s in level par – two birdies, two bogeys, five pars . . . . . Doug Ghim went out as a single, cruised home in 63 and passed 39 players. He’s T-23 and has improved his hopes for a possible BMW Championship. Presently he’s projected in 75th place.
Erik van Rooyen: 76th to 25th
Harold Varner III: 72nd to 47th
Tom Hoge: 108th to 57th
Keith Mitchell: 101st to 69th
Joe Dahmen: 77th to 70th
Matt Fitzpatrick 60th to 71st
Tyrrell Hatton: 63rd to 73rd
Martin Laird 65th to 74th
Troy Merritt: 69th to 78th
J.T. Poston: 70th to 79th
Jim McCabe has covered golf since 1995, writing for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and PGATOUR.COM. Follow Jim McCabe on Twitter.