It wasn’t long ago that Erik van Rooyen was playing on the Challenge Tour, so finding himself near the top of the leaderboard at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black was something of a “pinch me” moment.
In just his second major championship appearance, the South Africa native and University of Minnesota grad found himself inside the top 10 late on Sunday afternoon as he stepped to the 17th tee. He spoke to the Golf Digest Podcast back at the Players Championship—days before the coronavirus halted sports around the world—for a wide-ranging discussion (starting at 19:30) on a number or topics, including his four years on the Sunshine Tour, his time at Minnesota, controlling his emotions, his joggers (of course) … and the time he got booed off the green at Bethpage.
We’ll let him take it from here:
“I played it the first day and was like woah,” Van Rooyen said of his first time seeing the beast that is Bethpage Black. “The crowds—I’ll never experience anything like that ever again.
“To give you an example, 15, 16, 17 are all kind of right there. I’m playing those holes, and on 16 I had this unbelievable up-and-down from the bunker and people were going nuts. On 17, I hit it to 20 feet and I three putted, and I get booed off the green. I look at my caddie Alex and I go, ‘Dude, this is a cool moment, because this is never going to happen again!’
“I didn’t care that I was being booed. Obviously, I would have loved to not three-putt. But to get booed on a golf course—it was a fun moment.”
He wound up finishing T-8, good for $264,395. We’d be smiling, too.
Van Rooyen is a rising star, having finished T-3 in the WGC-Mexico Championship in February and showing once again that he can compete against world-class fields. He has a good chance to get his PGA Tour card for next season through non-member points—assuming that will still be a thing given this wacky schedule—so American fans should be seeing much more of the well-dressed, well-behaved 30-year-old.
Please give our chat with van Rooyen a listen and subscribe to the Golf Digest Podcast.