Van Rooyen’s opening round of 71 at Augusta puts him in 17th

Apr 12, 2024 | Featured, South Africans abroad

Three late bogeys on the back nine on Thursday saw Erik van Rooyen finish his first round of the Masters on one-under-par 71 for a share of 17th in the weather-affected opening round of the year’s first major championship.

After a late start to the opening round as a storm swept through Augusta National, Van Rooyen got his round off to a great start and finished the day six shots off the lead which was held by Bryson DeChambeau at seven-under. He was one clear of world number on, Scottie Scheffler, with Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark lurking promisingly on five-under through 15.

It grew into a windy day, and that made the latter half of Van Rooyen’s round difficult: “Right sort of through the turn it started picking up,” he said. “I’ve watched this tournament how many times as a kid, and you hear about how it swirls. It’s only my third time playing, and I definitely experienced it today.”

He got his first taste of the strange things that the wind can cause on the ninth, as he got away with a birdie. “I found myself in an unfortunate position just over the green,” he said of his approach which sailed right over the back flag to just off the green. “As you guys can tell, the wind is up, and it’s swirling just a little bit through these trees. According to our calculations, it was a perfect stock seven-iron, though it actually ended up sort of two or three yards below the hole. I think the wind must have just turned, instead of being slightly in off the right, it was probably straight off the right, and it went long, and I couldn’t believe it. Hell of a putt from off the green on nine. Alex (Gaugert, my caddie) looks at me, and he goes, ‘what a stupid game’.

“There was another one on 14 on the back nine that went a bit long that I was a bit baffled by, and 12 was again one that was really strange. Supposed to be a bit in off the left there. It wasn’t supposed to go that long.

“My coach Sean Foley told me today that acceptance is going to be so key. The person that’s going to try and control every aspect of this game out there is probably going to struggle because you’re going to hit great shots and make great swings, and it’s not going to end up the way you thought, and that happened on nine, happened on 14, happened on 15 with me. That’s golf.

“But I’m really happy with shooting under par. Obviously a pity making a few bogeys on the back, but that’s okay.

“Overall I played fantastic. I made one poor swing, and that was on 17. The rest of it was fantastic golf. Like I said, the one on 14 went a bit long. Pity about three-putting there.”


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