Erik van Rooyen is looking to put on a show for the local fans when Thursday’s Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player tees off at Sun City.
The Cape Town native has made a big impact since graduating from the Qualifying School in 2016, finishing in the top 40 on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex in a rookie season where he also finished fourth at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
He bettered that Rolex Series result last week as he lost out in a playoff at the Turkish Airlines Open and enters the final two events of the season eighth in the race to be Europe’s No 1 with the help of a maiden victory at the Scandinavian Invitation.
And with a vociferous home crowd behind him at Gary Player Country Club, the 29-year-old is aiming for the very top at Sun City.
‘I think it’s gone fantastically well,’ he said. ‘I’m in the Race to Dubai at the moment with a realistic chance of winning it. So I think for it being my second year, I’ve reached many of my goals.
‘My game is right where it needs to be and it’s in a good place, especially with being home. I know this golf course really well, I’ve got a lot of local support. It’s only looking up. The people always get behind us South Africans.
‘I’ve got to win. So let’s keep the sixes off the card and get as many threes and fours on there. That’s it. We’re not here for a haircut.’
The event this week is often referred to as ‘Africa’s Major’ and Van Rooyen admits it would be a special one to win after watching it as a child.
‘I remember watching Ernie [Els] win here in a playoff,’ he said.
‘I remember watching Sergio [Garcia] win here.
‘As a kid, there was a rain delay and we’re sitting in the grandstand and it’s pouring rain and no one’s leaving and we’re singing “Shosholoza” or something like that. I’ve got really good memories.’