Van Rooyen pulls off Eye of Africa play-off victory

2016 Joburg Open: Day 2

EIKENHOF, February 12 – Erik van Rooyen hit his approach to inside a foot in the first hole of a three-way play-off on Sunday to set himself up for birdie and victory in the R1.5-million Eye of Africa PGA Championship.

He finished regulation play with a birdie on 18 too, to finish on 16-under for the tournament together with Dylan Frittelli and Makhetha Mazibuko, who narrowly missed a par-putt on 18 in regulation which would have given him the victory. Last year’s runner-up Dean Burmester finished fourth after a disappointing round of one-over 73.

“The 18th is not an easy hole,” said Van Rooyen. “I didn’t really plan to stiff it with my second in the play-off. My plan was to hit where I hit it in regulation, because that’s just the middle of the green. You need to give yourself a chance, especially after I saw where Makhetha hit his ball in the bunker. I knew par might have a chance. But my approach drew back so nicely and it almost went in. It was fantastic.”

The victory was the first in his Sunshine Tour career which stretches back to 2013 when he gained his card at the Qualifying School. “It’s hard to describe,” he said of his feelings after the win. “I’ve worked really hard with a big group of people – sports psychologists, a trainer, a swing coach, whatever – for the last 10 or 15 years, and to finally get the win…

“I’ve been in there a few times in the last few years that I’ve been on the Sunshine Tour, and I think today I really held my composure nicely. I think that’s where I slipped up in the past. But today, I got it done and now the emotions are boiling over a little.”

The fact of the matter was that he kept his composure throughout the tournament, rather than just in the final round. “I played some very consistent golf – 69-68-68-67 – so I knew that my game was there,” he said. “The other guys played well. Dylan shot eight-under on Saturday, which was unbelievable golf, but I was in there with a chance. Obviously, Dean was the man to catch with the unbelievable golf he has been playing lately. I guess it comes down to the back nine on Sunday and I was there. I threw my name in the hat, and I got it done.”

Behind him, Mazibuko came agonisingly close to pulling off what would have been an amazing victory. A product of the SA Golf Development Board’s efforts in the Free State, and then of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, and latterly the Sunshine Tour’s Gary Player Class of 2017 initiative, his game withstood the rigours of the week as he announced himself as someone who will break through soon.

Likewise Frittelli, who played so well over the weekend, only to see his chances of winning evaporate with a poor tee shot on the play-off hole.

For Van Rooyen, there are three important tournament to look forward to: next week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am, followed by the Joburg Open and the Tshwane Open, co-sanctioned by the European Tour, which give him a chance of playing his way onto the international circuit.

“I’m looking forward to the upcoming stretch of tournaments,” he said. “I’ve prepared so well. I’ve played Royal Johannesburg and Pretoria Country Club many times in the last three weeks, so I’m well prepared for those events. Obviously this win will give me a huge confidence-boost. But, you know, you always think you can do it before you actually do it, and then you know you can do it. So to know that I can do it, that I’ve got the game to win, I’ve got the mental side to win, is awesome.”

Scores:

272 – Erik van Rooyen 69 68 68 67

272 – Makhetha Mazibuko 73 66 65 68, Dylan Frittelli 71 69 64 68

273 – Dean Burmester 66 67 67 73

276 – Ross McGowan 70 67 70 69, MJ Viljoen 65 69 70 72, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 67 68 68 73

277 – Jacques Kruyswijk 69 69 71 68, Jared Harvey 73 67 68 69, Justin Hicks 63 68 73 73

278 – Doug McGuigan 69 67 72 70, Daniel Greene 68 67 72 71

279 – Jean-Paul Strydom 69 72 72 66, Johary Raveloarison 70 68 73 68, Jonathan Agren 68 72 69 70

280 – Vaughn Groenewald 69 74 69 68, Danie van Tonder 71 69 69 71, Anthony Michael 69 71 68 72

281 – Jean Hugo 72 72 68 69, Steven Ferreira 69 69 73 70, Louis de Jager 67 70 70 74

282 – Neil Schietekat 70 73 69 70, Jaco Van Zyl 73 69 70 70, Titch Moore 73 67 70 72

283 – Toby Tree 74 70 72 67, Andrew Georgiou 75 69 71 68, Tjaart van der Walt 69 68 76 70, Jaco Ahlers 73 67 73 70, Christiaan Basson 69 69 72 73, Colin Nel 65 72 71 75

284 – Merrick Bremner 68 74 70 72, Ryan Cairns 69 72 70 73, Ockie Strydom 70 71 69 74, Francesco Laporta 74 65 69 76

285 – Garth Mulroy 71 74 71 69, Gert Myburgh 72 72 71 70

286 – Andrew Odoh 76 65 72 73, Steve Surry 69 72 71 74, Trevor Fisher Jnr 74 66 71 75, Wil Bateman 74 67 68 77

287 – Sipho Bujela 68 75 74 70, Tyrone Ferreira 70 71 76 70, Michael Palmer 68 77 71 71, Jason Froneman 72 73 71 71, Antonio Rosado 71 73 71 72, Rhys Enoch 72 70 73 72, Jake Redman 71 71 73 72

288 – Dwayne Basson 73 72 74 69, Darren Fichardt 70 69 77 72, Chris Williams 70 71 74 73

289 – Madalitso Muthiya 70 74 72 73, Peter Karmis 72 72 71 74, Mark Williams 68 70 73 78

290 – Allan Versfeld 72 72 75 71

291 – Heinrich Bruiners 72 73 74 72, Jake Roos 73 72 73 73, Jaco Prinsloo 72 73 71 75

292 – Martin Rominger 70 71 79 72, Keenan Davidse 75 70 74 73, Grant Veenstra 75 69 75 73, Teaghan Gauche 71 71 77 73, Lyle Rowe 70 74 72 76, Rhys West 71 71 72 78

296 – Gerrit Foster 74 69 78 75

298 – CJ du Plessis 72 71 78 77

300 – Charl Coetzee 78 66 80 76

Mike Green
Communications Manager
Southern Africa PGA Tour
Sunshine Tour House, De Beers Avenue, Somerset West 7130, South Africa
Postnet Suite 185 Private Bag X15, Somerset West 7129, RSA
T: 021 850 6500    F: 021 852 8271 C: 082 830 2808
E: mgreen@sunshinetour.com

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