Erik van Rooyen has first PLAYERS in sights after record-tying 62South African tied course record in second round of WGC-Mexico Championship
February 21, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Erik van Rooyen closes with birdie at WGC-Mexico
MEXICO CITY – South African Erik van Rooyen made nine birdies for a course record-tying 62 and is just one off the lead of Bryson DeChambeau (63) halfway through the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
Now comes the prospect of keeping it going, nudging his world ranking ever so slightly upward and potentially cracking the field for his first start in THE PLAYERS Championship.
“I’ve got to get in the top 50 in two weeks’ time,” said van Rooyen, who came into the week 52nd.
Relatively unknown in America, van Rooyen plays full-time on the European Tour, but he is not without his bona fides here. He captained the University of Minnesota golf team, and it was during his collegiate career, on a Spring Break trip, that he saw the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass for the first time.
“I just walked around the grounds,” he said. “We walked 18, 17, got a bit of a tour of the clubhouse. It was maybe junior year, with my teammates. We played in the morning somewhere, and Coach was like, ‘OK, guys, a special little treat: We’re going to Sawgrass.
With his caddie not feeling well and his trainer on the bag for Thursday’s first round, van Rooyen went 3 over for his first nine holes before a chip-in eagle on his 10th hole, the par-4 first, turned things around. (He shot 1-under 70.)
His regular caddie returned Friday, when van Rooyen could do no wrong.
Fittingly, the career-low round came on his 30th birthday.
“A little bit of a gift to myself,” he said.
What would he savor most, if he’s able to keep it going and crack THE PLAYERS?
“Sixteen, seventeen and eighteen,” he said. “I remember watching Adam Scott win it a long time ago, and thinking that was super cool, and since then I’ve really wanted to play it.”
Considering he’s gone 13 under for the last 27 holes and shows no signs of slowing down, he appears to have all but booked his tee time. But where is this coming from? Even van Rooyen isn’t sure. He won the 2019 Scandinavian Invitation, holding off Matt Fitzpatrick and Henrik Stenson for his maiden European Tour victory, but his best result this year is a T12 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January.
“I haven't played fantastic golf in Europe, with our stretch in the Middle East,” he said. “But off the golf course, I've been playing really well, hitting some really good shots, doing really good things, and I was kind of waiting for it to come together on the golf course, and today was the day.”
Two more good rounds and he could be headed back to TPC Sawgrass – this time with a scorecard in his hand.