At this early stage of the 147th Open Championship, Erik Van Rooyen is leading the pack after an opening 67. What do we know about the South African?

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Who is Erik Van Rooyen?

At this early stage of the 147th Open Championship, Erik Van Rooyen is leading the pack after an opening 67. What do we know about the South African?

South Africa’s ErikVan Rooyen is 28 and has been a professional golfer since 2013. Hailing from Johannesburg, he is in his rookie season on the European Tour having won the Hainan Open on the Challenge Tour in 2017. He earned his place on the main circuit for this year after finishing in the top-15 on the 2017 Challenge Tour standings.

He might be one of the lesser-known players in the field this week, but Van Rooyen has been enjoying a pretty decent year on the European Tour. He finished second in the Joburg Open in December (a finish that secured his start in The Open at Carnoustie) and has posted three further top-10s since then. He was 10th in the Tshwane Open and then tied 7th in the Trophee Hassan II.

Van Rooyen’s picked up his biggest professional cheque to date though, two weeks ago in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin. He was tied for 4th place in that event and earned just shy of €400,000.

The South African had led the Irish Open through three rounds but he fell back with a final round of 74.

So far on the 2018 European Tour, Van Rooyen has earned over €700,000. He is currently ranked 34th on the Race to Dubai standings and at 144th on the Official World Golf Ranking.

Van Rooyen had a strong amateur career and was captain of the golf team at the University of Minnesota. As an amateur he won the 2011 Southern Cape Open and the 2012 Minnesota State Amateur championship.

He played on the Sunshine Tour after turning pro and won the 2017 Eye of Africa Championship.

Van Rooyen’s first round at Carnoustie in the 147th Open Championship began with two straight birdies and he picked up further shots on the 6th, 11th and 15th holes. He dropped a shot at the last but he’s leading the way right now after a 67. You might not know much about him but his form this season, particularly in the Irish Open, demonstrates that he is more than capable of contending as the week progresses – watch this space.