ERIK VAN ROOYEN
DOING IT HIS WAY
One of South Africa’s most consistent golfers on the PGA and DP World Tours is known for his unique style, on and off the course. Mike Green
Casey Jarvis has continued where he left off as an amateur, by making a big impact on the pro circuit. Gary Lemke
Since turning professional in 2013, Erik van Rooyen has been on quite a golfing journey, including playing at The Open Championship and celebrating his first win on an international Tour. The new PGA Tour schedule has added extra pressure for the South African but he is up for the challenge, saying: “There’s some positive signs in my game so I’m looking forward to playing some good golf.”
THE GOLF MAG highlights where it all started for Van Rooyen and what makes him stand out from the rest.
His start in golf
I first started playing golf with my granddad. I was about seven and we would go down to Cape Town for Christmas and they had a big yard so my brother and dad would mess around with his clubs. My dad then started playing golf when he was 38 after a friend encouraged him to take up the sport and I remember going to the range with him. When I was 10 and my brother was 13, Dad bought us a set of clubs between us and my brother, as the older one, had to carry the bag. Great memories. I would hit it left and he right and we would be running across fairways. I finally got my own set of clubs on my 13th or 14th birthday. I was 14 when I played my first junior event, playing off 10 in the B Division and won so I was pretty stoked. It took off from there, playing more junior events and then I got in the provincial side and started travelling the country. I was playing all sports and was quite a decent cricketer which was my main sport until golf took over.
How it all unfolded at the Scandinavian Invitational for the win.
The emotions that rush through your body are incredible – the sense of achievement, satisfaction, it was an amazing moment. The way I went about it, not getting it done so many times and then finally getting it right was quite amazing
His first win on an international Tour
I finally got that first win in Scandinavia. I was playing some good golf, putting myself in contention a few times. The first time was at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2018 where I had a four-shot lead with a round to go and finished fourth. That was disappointing and left me wondering what I needed to do to get it done. Then I put myself in contention again at the Scottish Open in 2019 where I was tied for the lead after the first hole of the final round and made an eight on the second hole. That was that, so heartbroken again and frustrated. Then finally at the Scandinavian Invitational, I pulled it off. I shot 64 on Saturday and 64 on Sunday. I made a lot of putts on that final day and a thrilling putt on the 18th to get it done. The emotions that rush through your body are incredible – the sense of achievement, satisfaction, it was an amazing moment. The way I went about it, not getting it done so many times and then finally getting it right was quite amazing.
My grandfather had a moustache his whole life. I used to do it for Christmas, and this last one kind of stuck around for a little while. People seemed to like it. My wife disliked it. So there's definitely a shelf life to this thing. It had a life of its own back then and it kind of told me what to do – no, I’m kidding! Yeah, it takes more work than you think. I had a pair of scissors, the brush, the whole works. I needed an extra 10 minutes in the morning.
The Ecco Golf Biom H4 (Erik van Rooyen edition) shoes
I’m very excited to once again join forces with Ecco Golf to create another signature-edition style. The previous version we created together was super cool, and I received plenty of compliments out on Tour. I didn’t think it would be possible to top those, but with this new model I think we’ve done exactly that. It has a reworked upper, most notably around the toe of the shoe, for a sleeker look. A new tongue design is a more ergonomic shape which helps the shoe to fit more comfortably to the foot. They also wanted me to put my own twist on it, so on the sole, you’ll see rock ’n roll, punk rock, guitar and golf doodles. Give it a try – it's great!
Playing in a tournament alongside his regular caddie, Alex Gaugert
When we were playing college together, this was what we were all talking about. “Oh, man, we’re gonna play the PGA Tour together, we’re gonna room together, play practice rounds together.” We get to share that a little bit with him on the bag, but with him playing a tournament, it was really, really cool.
Playing the guitar
You have to find ways to stay sharp and there are always small things we can get better at. In golf, the mental part of the game is so important, so we can stay sharp by reading books and in my case playing the guitar. Growing up in South Africa, my dad listened to a lot of rock – guys like Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones. If anything pop came on the radio it was immediately turned off, so I guess that is where my rock ’n roll comes from. As a kid, I always wanted to play guitar and got some lessons for a month but then taught myself after that. So, I am not Eddie Van Halen or any of those guys but I can play a little and it is a passion of mine. I like to play anything from Jack Johnson to Foo Fighters and getting into some blues – BB King, Buddy Guy. It’s a way for me to escape and go into my own little world but also stay sharp and not get lazy.
IN THE BAG
Erik van Rooyen and his caddie Alex Gaugert share what it was like playing together at the 2023 3M Open.
ANDERS WIKLUND/JANE BARLOW/FRANCISCO GUASCO/EPA-EFE/BOB STRONG/UPI/SHUTTERSTOCK/BACKPAGEPIX/ECCO GOLF/CARL FOURIE/PETRI OESCHGE/THINUS MARITZ/SUNSHINE TOUR/INSTAGRAM