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Birdies and bees for Erik van Rooyen to begin Mexico Open

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Birdies and bees for Erik van Rooyen to begin Mexico Open

Cards 7-under 64 after eluding swarm of bees at Vidanta Vallarta

    Erik van Rooyen’s opening round at the Mexico Open at Vidanta generated plenty of buzz.

    In more ways than one.

    Van Rooyen, who shot a 7-under 64 and sits just one shot back of the lead held by Austin Smotherman, was attacked by a swarm of bees on the 10th hole.

    The swarm caused van Rooyen and playing partners Chez Reavie and Francesco Molinari (plus the television crew) to get down on their knees or stomachs to avoid getting stung.

    “I just saw them here and I just told my caddie, I'm like, ‘Bees, bees, bees,’ and he looks at me like I'm crazy,” said van Rooyen. “So, I dropped down, then he sees them, he dropped down. (Molinari) and (Reavie) look at me like I'm nuts and then they realized, like, 30 seconds later … the bees just went right at them.”

    “It's funny, but certainly don't want to get stung by those bad boys.”

    To his credit, van Rooyen (who is not allergic, he said with a smile) made par on the hole. All the more impressive, No. 10 played as the second-toughest of the day.

    “I had a 4-iron in my hand to a pin that’s tucked on the right,” he explained. “You’ve just got reset and refocus, so it’s simple.”

    Van Rooyen began his day with four birdies in his first seven holes before making a bogey on the par-4 eighth. He added another birdie on No. 14 before holing out from 137 yards for an eagle on the next hole. He said he hit pitching wedge and just “went straight at it.”

    “You don’t really plan on holing out from 137, so when it happens it’s pretty sweet,” van Rooyen said.

    The 2021 Barracuda Championship winner added another birdie on his closing hole to put a bow on the 64 – his lowest TOUR round since a 62 at The American Express in January. Prior to teeing off, van Rooyen joked with his caddie that he saw Smotherman’s 63 – which tied the course record – and said he probably did everything well.

    “I kind of did the same thing today, so everything clicked nicely,” van Rooyen said. “I feel like I’ve been trending the last couple months and things came together nicely today.

    “It’s as good as it gets, I think.”

    The South African is no stranger to seeing wildlife on the course, like when he tees it up at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club overlooking Kruger National Park in South Africa. The 13th hole there, he said, has a green next to water where one might see buffalo, hippo and even elephants.

    But after an opening-round 64, there is just one part of nature of which van Rooyen hopes to remain acquainted through the week.


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