Minnesota Golden Gophers golf alum Erik Van Rooyen has had a bit of a slow start of his professional career. After graduating from the U he joined the Sunshine Tour, which is a pro tour based out of his home country of South Africa. Van Rooyen won his first professional tournament at the Eye of Africa Open on the Sunshine Tour in February of 2017 after four years as a professional. In October he won the European Challenge Tour’s Hainan Open which earned him his full European Tour Card for 2018. He then took second in the Joberg Open back home in South Africa, which was one of the Open Qualifying Series Tournaments, and clinched a spot in the 2018 British Open. That’s looking pretty good right now as in his first round at Carnoustie in Scotland, Van Rooyen shot a four under par 67 and is currently in second place after the first day of the Open Championship.
Van Rooyen played on the Gopher Golf team from 2009 through 2013. His best finish in a major tournament was a second place finish at the Big Ten Tournament his senior season in 2013. He qualified for the NCAA Regionals three seasons in a row, but never advanced to the individual NCAA Tournament. His final average stroke total of 73.51 is the 8th best all-time in program history.
He has been on a roll in 2018 coming into the Open. He finished in fourth place two weeks ago at the Irish Open after going into the last round with a four shot lead, but struggled with a two over par 74 on Sunday, He tied for 20th place at the BMW PGA Tournament earlier this season and is ranked 34th on the European Tour this season.
Van Rooyen did not waste any time getting off to a good start by birdying both the first and second holes to get to -2. He would add another birdie at the par five 6th hole to move to -3. with two more birdies on the 11th and 15th holes, Van Rooyen had his score down to -5, but would bogie the finishing hole to complete his round at -4. He sits just one stroke back of the lead which is curently held by the US’s Kevin Kisner at -5. He is tied at -4 with Tony Finau from the US, and his fellow South African Zandar Lombard with several players still on the course who have a chance to equal his number.
Van Rooyen will begin his second round at 5:47 AM central time on Friday and will look to make the cut at his first ever major tournament.