Van Rooyen Withdraws from South African Open
December 7, 2018
Erik Van Rooyen, the former University of Minnesota star from South Africa who began his move up the Official World Golf Rankings with a second-place finish at the South African Open a year ago, was forced to withdraw from this year's tournament shortly before the first round began because of an unspecified illness.
The tournament was actually called the Joburg Open in 2017. This year it's the SA Open, but it's played at the same two Randpark Golf Club courses -- Firethorn and Bushwillow. Charl Schwartzl, Van Rooyen's fellow South African and a former Masters champion, leads the tournament after 36 holes with a total of 130 (67-63). Madalitso Muthiya is a stroke behind at 131 (63-68), and yet another South African, former British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen, is in a three-way tie for third at 132 (63-69).
Van Rooyen won the Minnesota State Amateur in 2012. He completed his eligibility with the Gophers the following spring and turned professional in June of 2013. In 2016, he returned to Minnesota and won the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am at Southview CC by five strokes. He also finished third in the State Open six weeks later.
Playing on the European Challenge Tour in 2017, Van Rooyen won once and finished the season No. 3 on the money list, which earned him fulltime status on the European Tour. By then he had moved into the top 300 in the OWGR. His runner-up finish at the Joburg Open moved him into the top 200. He is currently No. 139. Van Rooyen hasn't won yet on the European Tour, but he was in contention to win the Irish Open on the final day of the tournament and ended up in a tie for fourth. He also contended in the British Open, eventually tying for 17th. Ultimately, he made more than 1 million euros for the 2017-18 season and finished the season No. 38 on the Euro Tour money list.
He announced his withdrawal from the SA Open on his Twitter account: "Sad and frustrated to have withdrawn," he wrote. "(It was) a decision I had to make, even if it was one I didn't want do. Good luck to all the guys competing."