Van Rooyen plays second fiddle, still smiling broadly

Henry

The South African golf star Erik van Rooyen then had to play second fiddle in the Cognizant Classic in Florida on Monday, but still had millions of reasons to smile broadly.

Van Rooyen eventually finished joint second in the Palm Beach Gardens tournament, which could not be completed on Sunday due to inclement weather and did not come to an end until late Monday morning American time. His reward for his good play was a whopping R15.2 million in prize money, which would certainly have eased the pain of his bachelor status a little.

The 34-year-old native of Bellville already completed his assault on the title on Sunday with an excellent score of 63 strokes (-8) for a total of 270 (-14).

Had it not been for an interruption of almost four hours that halted Van Rooyen’s momentum, he could have performed even better. He kicked off his day on Sunday with six consecutive birdies after which a seventh one on the eighth hole made him turn in 28 shots.

The South African was eight strokes under par after eleven holes when the bad weather reared its head and delayed play for hours. On his return to the track, Van Rooyen’s score was no longer accurate and he could not further improve his score. He was the clubhouse leader for a long time until Yank Austin Eckroat got his nose just ahead of him at -15 before play was halted on Sunday afternoon due to poor light.

Eckroat had to play eleven holes on Monday and he added two more birdies on his scorecard to consolidate his position at the top of the leaderboard. He finally finished on 267 (-17) after a 67 over the last eighteen holes and pipped Van Rooyen and the Aussie Min Woo Lee (67) to the crown by three shots.

Last week’s champion in Mexico, Jake Knapp, excelled again and finished joint fourth.

Van Rooyen’s compatriot Garrick Higgo was sixteenth at -11 and is R2.6 million richer.

*The late finish of the Cognizant Classic has derailed the most elite Pro-Am tournament in America. The Seminole Pro-Member tournament was decided Monday morning and afternoon in Juno Beach, Florida, but players like Cameron Young, Ricky Fowler and Shane Lowry were unable to meet their tee times because they had to finish first in the Cognizant Classic.

Van Rooyen also had to be present until the end in case Eckroat stumbled.

The Seminole Golf Club, like Augusta, is a closed club and membership is by invitation only. The club apparently has around 50 billionaires as members and they annually invite a number of PGA professional players and other top sportsmen for a Pro-Am golf day in aid of charity.

Tiger Woods played in the tournament for the first time on Monday, while Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Nelly Korda, as well as the legendary football player Tom Brady exhibited their talents on the exclusive golf course.

Ernie Els was also one of the distinguished guests and played in a four-ball with South Africa’s richest businessman, Johann Rupert.

*After a week’s break, the Sunshine Series for women resumes on Wednesday at the Blue Valley golf estate outside Centurion when the Fidelity ADT Challenge Tournament is decided.

In the absence of Lee-Anne Pace, Stacy Bregman, Kiera Floyd and Lejan Lewthwaite will carry the South African flag. The winners of the first two Sonskyn tournaments, Kylie Henry and Tvesa Malik, are both among this week’s participants.

*The men are in action at Glendower from Thursday when the Jonsson Workwear Open is played in Edenvale. This tournament forms part of the DP World series and has an overall prize pool of almost R30 million.

  • Additional source: PGA Tour