Van Rooyen bogey-free and 2 back in Sentry Tournament of Champions


It was a good start to Erik van Rooyen’s competitive year as he opened the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a six-under-par 67 on Thursday to take up a share of fifth place after the first round of the PGA Tour for 2022.

Van Rooyen picked up five birdies on the front nine to get things off to a flyer, with gains on two, four, five, six and nine seeing him turn in 31. Things quietened down a bit on his homeward nine, with just one shot picked up with a birdie on 15. But he was just two shots off the pace set by Australia’s Cameron Smith who had two eagles in his eight-under 63.

Smith led by one from Americans Daniel Berger and Patrick Cantlay, with world number one Jon Rahm of Spain joining that duo in a share of second.

Garrick Higgo also got his 2022 PGA Tour campaign off to a bogey-free start with his five-under-par 68 giving him a share of eighth place, three shots off the lead. Higgo, how had a quiet finish to his year in 2021, picked up four birdies on the front nine, and, like Van Rooyen, just one more on the way home. His birdie on 14 came when he nearly drove the green, ending up in the greenside bunker from which he got up and down.

Branden Grace was also right in the mix, with a bogey on 17 making the only hiccup in a round with five birdies giving him a four-under-par 69. That left him in a share of 13th in the 38-man field made up exclusively of PGA Tour champions and major winners.