• Els’ charm helps Erik fire

    Erik van Rooyen
    Erik van Rooyen

    Erik van Rooyen played his first round ever with Ernie Els during the practise day ahead of the RBC Heritage and it clearly helped, writes WADE PRETORIUS.

    ‘You might not believe it, but yesterday was the first time. First time I played with Ernie. Obviously, a hero of mine growing up, massively so. So it was pretty cool for me,’ admitted Van Rooyen.

    Maybe it was that encounter and learning from the legend or shaking off the rust following last week’s missed cut or both. But it did leave Van Rooyen in a share of 10th place after 18 thanks to a bogey-free display.

    Summing up his day, he said: ‘It was very good, world class actually. I hit it extremely well, much better than last week, I think. Missed probably a few chances in the back. I think I could have gone a few lower, but all in all, I’m really happy.’

    The South African is currently 44th in the world and looking to continue the fine form which saw him book his Masters ticket and contend at the WGC-Mexico.

    On Thursday, he went out in 31 but came home with nine straight pars to consolidate his position. One stroke ahead of The Big Easy and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

    Van Rooyen also revealed the fight left in Els, who admitted that he will mostly play on the senior circuit in the months to come, after their round.

    ‘He didn’t hit it great yesterday. So when — after the round, he told Ricky [Els’ caddie], he was like,” okay, bring me four more bags. We’re going to go hit some balls.” So I was happy to see he was up there on the leaderboard today.’

    Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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