Erik van Rooyen. Picture: STUART FRANKLIN/GETTY IMAGES
Erik van Rooyen. Picture: STUART FRANKLIN/GETTY IMAGES

Erik van Rooyen claimed his first PGA Tour title when he won the Barracuda Championship in California on Sunday, and said he would celebrate in typical SA fashion with a brandy and coke.

The South African finished with 50 points in the modified Stableford scoring system used for this tournament to achieve what he said was the next step in his career.

“Obviously this was the next step for what I wanted to achieve. I’ve got big aspirations, and winning on the PGA Tour was certainly part of that. I’m really, really happy.”

Van Rooyen is the third Sunshine Tour player to win on the PGA Tour this season. He is also the sixth consecutive first-time winner of the Barracuda Championship and set a record for the best winning score since the tournament changed to a modified Stableford scoring system in 2012. He is also the first player since Major champion Collin Morikawa to win the tournament on debut.

“It’s massive. It’s been a difficult 18 months for me golfwise. I haven’t been playing well. There’s been glimpses of it the last six months. But I haven’t been able to put four good rounds together. To win here under the conditions, you know, the pressure that I was under, I’m going to take so much confidence from this.

“I think it reiterates that patience is key. I was forcing things there for a long time. And ironically, with this game, when you do that, it kind of tends to go the other way. You have to let things happen and let things come to you.”

Van Rooyen joins Garrick Higgo and Branden Grace as winners on the PGA Tour this season. The last time three South Africans won in the same season on the PGA Tour was in 2010 with Tim Clark, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen.

“Garrick has got such a bright future. He’s played exceptional golf the past two years. And Louis is someone I’ve always looked up to. And I played a lot of golf with him the last year or so. Ever since my wife and I moved back to the US we live nearby each other.

“Louis is so good on the golf course. And the way he handles himself, his calm demeanour, his patience, it’s really something I took away from him. We all know he’s a fantastic ball striker, but the way he handles himself, that’s something I wanted to copy. And it’s something I look up to,” Van Rooyen said.

“And I think as a whole we are quite motivated in general. Ernie, for me at least, was really the one that set the tone from a SA perspective. Obviously Gary Player and guys before him. But Ernie and Retief [Goosen] were really the eras that I look up to. And they set the tone for us and there’s so many great players coming through at the moment because of that.”

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