Van Rooyen Named European Tour Graduate (Rookie) of the Year
November 21, 2018
Erik Van Rooyen, the former Minnesota State Amateur champion (2012) from South Africa, has been named the winner of the European Tour's Graduate of the Year Award. It might more accurately be called the Rookie of the Year Award, because it is given to the player who graduated from the European Challenge Tour the previous year and finished highest in the current year's Race to Dubai, which is basically the European Tour's money list.
The 28-year-old Van Rooyen ended the 2017-18 season at No. 38 in the Race to Dubai standings with 1,178,064 points. That translates into 1,026,209 Euros, which is the equivalent of $1,169,878, according to Tuesday's exchange rate of $1.14 for 1 Euro.
He was the leading candidate for the Graduate of the Year Award for the entire season, beginning with a solo second-place finish in the Joburg Open last December. Marcus Kinhult finished second in the Graduate category; he concluded the season in 49th place on the Race to Dubai list.
The European Tour stats show Van Rooyen ranked No. 11 in Driving Distance (306.5 yards per drive) and No. 14 in Greens in Regulation (72.7 percent).
This was the sixth year in which the Euro Tour's Graduate award has been given out. Former winners include Brooks Koepka in 2014. Koepka has gone on to win three major championships, including two in 2018 -- the U.S. Open (for the second year in a row) and the PGA. He was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year for 2018 in October, and is currently No. 2 (behind Justin Rose) in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Van Rooyen came to Minnesota in 2009 to play golf for the University of Minnesota. He was the No. 1 player for the Gophers as a senior (2012-13), but did not attempt to defend his State Amateur title after completing his college eligibility, choosing to turn professional and return to South Africa instead. In 2016, he returned to Minnesota and won the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am at Southview Country Club. He shot 39 (3 over) for his first nine in that tournament, then played the final 45 holes in 15 under. In that span of 45 holes, there were 10 par-5's, and Van Rooyen reached the green in two on every one of those 10 holes.
He also played in the State Open that summer and finished third, behind Ben Greve and Sam Matthew.
The next tournament on Van Rooyen's schedule will be in Australia at the 2018 ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf. He and his friend Dylan Frittelli -- the 2017 European Tour Graduate of the Year -- will represent South Africa in the team competition. The tournament starts Thursday, although because of the time difference, coverage on the Golf Channel will begin Wednesday night at 7 p.m.