5 Birdies in 6 Holes on Back 9 Propel Van Rooyen into U.S. Open
June 7, 2019
Erik Van Rooyen went on a birdie spree Monday just when he needed one. The former University of Minnesota star had just bogeyed the 10th hole at Scioto Country Club and was even par through 28 holes in a Sectional U.S. Open Qualifier.
But the 29-year-old South African bounced back with a birdie at the 362-yard, par-4 11th hole, then made another at the 550-yard, par-5 12th. He proceeded to make two more birdies in a row on two of the hardest holes on the course, the 471-yard, par-4 13th and the 250-yard, par-3 14th. After a par at the 15th, Van Rooyen added one more birdie at the 426-yard, par-4 16th.
He parred in from there for a 6-under-par 64 and a 36-hole total of 137. That, as it turned out, was good enough for him to claim one of the 14 spots that were available for the 2019 U.S. Open, which will be played next week (June 13-16) at the Pebble Beach Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Van Rooyen's 64 was the lowest round of the day at Scioto, one of two courses that were used for the qualifier, and Brookside Golf & CC was the other. There were 121 players trying for those 14 spots.
Luke Guthrie claimed medalist honors with a 131. He opened with a 64 at Brookside. Anirban Lahiri was a stroke behind him (67 S, 65 B -- 132) in second, and Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson matched Guthrie's 64 at Brookside on his way to a 133, which put him in third.
Van Rooyen was in an eight-way tie for seventh. There was another large group -- seven players -- who ended up in a tie for 15th and missed qualifying by a single shot. Included were PGA Tour winners Kevin Tway, Scott Piercy, Ryan Armour and Cameron Champ.
Pebble Beach is an iconic course, but then so is Scioto. It was just down the street from where Jack Nicklaus grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and it was where he learned to play golf. He went on to win 18 major championships (20 if you count his to U.S. Amateurs), and one of them was the 1972 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Van Rooyen, who never played in a major until last summer, will be now be playing in his third. He tied for 17th at the British Open in July of 2018 and tied for eighth three weeks ago at the PGA Championship.
His showing at the PGA moved him into the top 100 in Official World Golf Rankings for the first time. He is currently No. 90. The former Minnesota State Amateur champion (2012) -- who claimed his first victory as a professional at the 2016 Tapemark Charity Pro-Am -- plays mainly on the European Tour. He's No. 19 on that money list this year, having earned 690,041 Euros in 13 tournaments so far in 2018. But he's getting into some tournaments on the PGA Tour, as well -- he's made $417,033 in three events -- and his hot streak at the end of the U.S. Open qualifying on Monday seems to have carried over. In this week's PGA Tour event, the RBC Canadian Open, he shot an opening round of 6-under 64 on Thursday and is tied for second place.
One of the first players to make it through U.S. Open sectional qualifying was Charlie Danielson, the former two-time Wisconsin state high school champion from Osceola. Danielson, 25, who was an All-American at Illinois, turned pro in 2016 and had a productive year in 2017, finishing in the top 20 on the Mackenzie (Canadian) Tour money list. But he's been plagued by knee problems since before he was in high school, and his knee was in need of repair again last year. He had to have surgery in July and was out of action for the rest of 2018.
Danielson wasn't expecting to be at full strength until about halfway through 2019, but his recovery seems to be ahead of schedule. He made it through MacKenzie Q-School and has made enough money ($11,475) in three events so far this year to be No. 8 on the Canadian money list.
On May 20, he played in Dallas in the first of the 12 Open sectionals that were contested this spring. Like Van Rooyen, he made it on the number, shooting 3-under 67 in the morning round at Northwood Club and following it with a 1-under 70 at Bent Tree CC. He needed one birdie late in the second round to get into a three-way tie for ninth at 137, and he got it at Bent Tree's 16th hole, a 571-yard par-5. That meant a 3-for-2 playoff because there were 102 players vying for 10 spots. Danielson and amateur Austin Eckroat (who plays for Oklahoma State) emerged from the playoff, but the odd man out, Cody Gribble, turned out to be a lucky loser. He was added to the Open field later, when Dallas was granted an extra spot.
U.S. OPEN SECTIONAL QUALIFYING
927 players trying for 75 spots at the U.S. Open, June 13-16 at Pebble Beach Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.
(More than 8,600 entrants competed for 500 spots in local qualifying previously)
At Brent Tree Country Club (par 71) and Northwood Club (par 70)
102 players for 10 spots
T1. Brandon Todd, Watkinsville, Ga. 65 (N) 66 (B) -- 131
T1. Nick Taylor, Canada 66 (N) 65 (B) -- 131
3. Carlos Ortiz, Mexico 66 (B) 67 (N) -- 133
4. Julian Etulain, Argentina 71 (B) 64 (N) -- 135 (won 3-for-2 playoff)
T9. Charlie Danielson, Osceola 67 (N) 70 (B) -- 137 (won 3-for-2 playoff)
What it took: 137 (3-way tie for 9th)
Failed to qualify
Henry May, Edina 76 (N) 75 (B) -- 151
At Scioto Country Club (par 70) and Brookside Golf & Country Club (par 72)
121 for 14 spots
1. Luke Guthrie, Jacksonville Beach, Fla. 64 (B) 67 (S) -- 131
2. Anirban Lahiri, India 67 (S) 65 (B) -- 132
3. Sam Saunders, Atlantic Beach, Fla. 64 (B) 69 (S) -- 133
4. Jhonattan Vegas, Venezuala 66 (B) 68 (S) -- 134
T7. Erik Van Rooyen, South Africa 73 (B) 64 (S) -- 137
What it took: 137 (8-way tie for 7th)
Charlie Duensing, Sandy, Utah 71 (B) 73 (S) -- 144
Chris Meyer, Edina 71 (B) 75 (S) -- 146
At Woodmont Country Club
63 for 4 spots
T1. Billy Hurley, Annapolis, Md. 70-71--141
T1. Connor Arendell, Cape Coral, Fla. 70-71--141
T3. Joseph Bramlett, San Jose, Calif. 71-71--142
T3. Ryan Sullivan, Winston-Salem, N.C. 72-70--142
What it took: 142 (2-way tie for 3rd)
Thomas Campbell, Minnetonka 72-74--146
At Springfield Country Club
73 for 5 spots
T1. Zac Blair, Orem, Utah 67-67--134
T1. Chip McDaniel, Manchester, Ky. 68-66--134
T1. Brian Stuard, Jackson, Mich. 66-68--134
T1. Nick Hardy, Northbrook, Ill. 66-68--134
What it took: 134 (4-way tie for 1st)
Robert Bell, Pierz 76-63--137
Troy Merritt, Spring Lake Park 72-67--139
Ross Miller, Maple Grove 76-74--150
Ball Ground, Ga.
Hawks Ridge Golf Club
67 for 4 spots
T1. Oliver Schniederjans, Alpharetta, Ga. 68-65--133
T1. Noah Norton, Chico, Calif. 67-66--133
T3. Chandler Eaton (A), Alpharetta, Ga. 69-66--135
T3. Roberto Castro, Atlanta, Ga. 68-67--135
What it took: 135 (2-way tie for 3rd)
Andrew Israelson, Staples 80-70--150
At Century Club (par 71) and Old Oaks Club (par 70)
73 for 4 spots
1. Cameron Young (A), Scarborough, N.Y. 69 (OO) 68 (C) -- 137
T2. Matt Parziale (A), Brockton, Mass. 69 (C) 73 (OO) --142
T2. Andy Pope, Glen Ellyn, Ill. 69 (OO) 73 (C) --142
4. Rob Oppenheim, Andover, Mass. 72 (OO) 71 (C) --143
What it took: 143 (solo 4th)
Alex Kline, Minnetonka 78-72--150