PGA TOURLeaderboardWatch + ListenNewsFedExCupSchedulePlayersStatsGolfbetSignature EventsComcast Business TOUR TOP 10Aon Better DecisionsDP World Tour Eligibility RankingsHow It WorksPGA TOUR TrainingTicketsShopPGA TOURPGA TOUR ChampionsKorn Ferry TourPGA TOUR AmericasLPGA TOURDP World TourPGA TOUR University

Teammates-turned-competitors, Erik van Rooyen and caddie Alex Gaugert playing together at the 3M Open

5 Min Read


Teammates-turned-competitors, Erik van Rooyen and caddie Alex Gaugert playing together at the 3M Open

Gaugert Monday qualified for a tee time at TPC Twin Cities

    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    BLAINE, Minn. – As Alex Gaugert walked off the 10th tee at TPC Twin Cities, he found himself in the unfamiliar position of handing his golf club off to someone else.

    Normally that would be his job, grabbing the driver of Erik van Rooyen, who he’s spent the last four years caddying for, as they set out to begin their Tuesday afternoon practice round.

    Instead, Gaugert traded tee shots with van Rooyen as competitors prepping for this week’s 3M Open.

    “It’s pretty surreal,” Gaugert says midway through his first practice round as a PGA TOUR golfer and less than 24 hours since the 30-year-old competed in, and made it out of, his first PGA TOUR Monday qualifier.

    As he walks towards his tee ball, which comfortably found the 10th fairway, he is asked about the state of his game. “Eh, I don’t know. I don’t play. I’m just having fun,” he says with a coy grin.

    He may be more modest than he’s letting on. A full-time caddie for van Rooyen and his University of Minnesota teammate from 2010-13, Gaugert finds only a couple of times during the month to play. Yet he was sharp enough to finish eagle-birdie-par to make it into a 4-for-3 playoff at the 3M Open Monday qualifier, which he later advanced through. He usually gets three shots when playing a match against van Rooyen, though the TOUR veteran should probably ask for more. Gaugert has lost “only once or twice” to van Rooyen in the last year.

    After a par at the 10th, Gaugert birdies the 11th and hits it 10 yards past his boss en route to a birdie on the par-5 12th. On the 13th tee, he’s asked how he’s hit it so far.

    “I’m making contact, at least,” he quips with a confident and comfortable smirk.

    If there are nerves, Gaugert isn’t showing them. His demeanor fits that of a caddie, but he’s not carrying his bag or cleaning his clubs. He’s in a money game with van Rooyen and Dylan Fritelli – and he’s holding his own.

    Come time for the actual competition on Thursday, van Rooyen expects the same. Gaugert’s free-flowing nature never leaves him.

    “It’s the best I’ve seen him play,” he says. “… And I think it comes from a place of pure enjoyment.”

    Good enough to make the cut?

    “Oh, absolutely,” says van Rooyen, who will have a front-row seat. Gaugert, van Rooyen and Ryan Moore are paired for the first two rounds. They tee off at 2 p.m. local time on Thursday.

    Maybe it’s that ebullient mindset that helped Gaugert shoot 4-under on the back-nine of nearby Victory Links Golf Club to qualify for the 3M Open. It certainly helped him manage a chaotic travel day that nearly ended up in a missed tee time.

    After van Rooyen finished T6 at the Barracuda Championship on Sunday, Gaugert hung around Tahoe Mountain Club an extra few hours to watch the playoff between Akshay Bhatia and Patrick Rodgers, whose caddie was Alex’s brother, Austin.

    He left the course at 5:30 p.m., with a 90-minute drive to an 8 p.m. flight in Sacramento. His connecting flight in Seattle was delayed until nearly 3 a.m. and he slept on the ground beside his gate. His plane landed in Minneapolis at 8:30 a.m., less than three hours before he was scheduled to tee off in the Monday qualifier. He made it in time to hit 15 balls and book it to the first tee.

    Would he have liked a smoother experience and a few hours of sleep in his own bed? Sure, but this route had its advantages too.

    “I think expectations are a massive thing and I went in with zero expectations and played well,” says Gaugert, who lives within a 30-minute drive from TPC Twin Cities.

    His expectations, or lack thereof, have seemed to carry over for the rest of this week. He admitted making the cut would be “pretty cool, honestly,” but he’s most looking forward to competing. He gets an up-close look at what it takes on TOUR every week with van Rooyen, but he’s not hitting the shots or feeling the same pressures. Gaugert played five events on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa in 2015 and missed each cut. He stopped playing and picked up van Rooyen’s bag shortly after. The duo won the 2021 Barracuda Championship together. Gaugert’s only PGA TOUR-sanctioned start was a missed cut at the 2022 CRMC Championship presented by Gertens on PGA TOUR Canada.

    If anyone, it's van Rooyen who is offering up more goals and excitement thus far.

    “I’m caught between how much fun I’m having and treating it like a normal PGA TOUR event,” he says.

    On the bag for Gaugert will be his brother Austin, who was originally planning to caddy for Ryan Moore until Alex qualified. Moore’s agent will caddy for him instead. Meanwhile, van Rooyen had no trouble finding a fill-in, with former teammate and now-assistant golf coach at the University of Minnesota Robert Bell stepping in.

    In front of a Minnesota crowd with loads of family, friends and former teammates expected to attend, the atmosphere should feel plenty comfortable for van Rooyen and Gaugert, even if they are trying to beat one another.

    “That’s really what we dreamed of. A lot of our guys (at Minnesota), we wanted to play the PGA TOUR, we talked about traveling together, playing a practice round together and now that dream is becoming a reality which is really cool,” van Rooyen said.

    As van Rooyen teed off on the 13th during their practice round, Gaugert walked to a familiar spot, stopping next to the bag he carries week in and out on TOUR. He watched as van Rooyen’s shot landed close to the pin on the long par-3, prompting a loud “great shot” from Gaugert. He stopped himself there, though. For this week, that’s all his best friend will get.

    “I got to watch my words to make sure I don’t give him any advice,” he said. “It’s going to be really fun… It’ll be a memorable experience for sure."

    Privacy PolicyTerms of UseAccessibility StatementDo Not Sell or Share My Personal InformationCookie ChoicesSitemap

    Copyright © 2024 PGA TOUR, Inc. All rights reserved.

    PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, and the Swinging Golfer design are registered trademarks. The Korn Ferry trademark is also a registered trademark, and is used in the Korn Ferry Tour logo with permission.