Sunshine Tour

Van Rooyen has PGA Tour card in his sights

Erik van Rooyen (Getty Images)
Erik van Rooyen (Getty Images)

Cape Town - For the past decade and a half, South African golf has been led by the 'Big 3' - Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.

Now Erik van Rooyen has thrown his hat into the conversation as the newest South African prospect on the world stage.

Van Rooyen, 29, enjoyed a breakthrough 2019 season on the European Tour which saw him enter the Top 50 in the world golf rankings.

Van Rooyen went on to record seven Top 10 finishes on the European Tour and sealed his maiden title at the Scandinavian Invitation in August.

As for everyone else, a new year brings new prospects and goals, and for Van Rooyen it's no different.

Thanks to his Top 50 ranking at the end of 2019, Van Rooyen earned him way into the select field for one of golf's most prestigious events, the Masters at Augusta National in April.

"It was a goal of mine to finish in the Top 50 for 2019 and I'm really, really, really happy that I accomplished that," Van Rooyen told Sport24 in an telephonic interview.

"The Top 50 is obviously the cream of the crop in the world of golf. For me, it's a first and I'm really excited to play at Augusta. The Majors are the pinnacle of our sport so getting the opportunity to play in all four of them is really exciting."

This year, Van Rooyen is focused on earning his PGA Tour card.

"I would love to secure my PGA Tour card, it's a place I'd like to play more of my golf and my wife is American as well. On the US Tour, you're playing against the best of the best so I'd like to compete at that level," said the South African.

Thanks to his Top 50 ranking, Van Rooyen is eligible to play in 12 PGA Tour events, which includes the major championships.

"If I can keep my Top 50 ranking, I'll have about 12 opportunities to secure my card so I have to play well to do that," added Van Rooyen.

"I'll keep both (PGA and European Tour cards). If you truly want to be a world-class player, you need to compete worldwide and not just in one environment.

"I feel like I'm ticking off all the right boxes so my goal is just to put myself into contention as many times as I possibly can in this year," he said.

The European Tour kicks off the 2020 season at this week's SA Open at Randpark Golf Club.

Van Rooyen missed last year's event due to illness, but will tee it up on Thursday in one of the world's oldest tournaments.

"As a South African, it's a tournament that you always want to play," he said.

"I'm really excited this week, it's a course and venue that I've played very well at - when Randpark hosted the Joburg Open a couple of years ago, I finished second. So there's a lot of good memories I'm really looking forward to this week."

Van Rooyen will tee off in Round 1 alongside fellow compatriot Branden Grace and Englishman Andy Sullivan at 11:55.

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