What you need to know about Erik van Rooyen

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Erik van Rooyen. The name probably didn't ring much of a bell until earlier this month... Unless you watch a lot of the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour that is.

If you do, you may already know that he’s got two professional wins under his belt and should have had a third at the Irish Open two weeks ago.

Russell Knox ultimately beat him to it, but van Rooyen has carried his form into his first-ever Major and Open Championship. One round in and he set the early club-house lead on four-under-par, before Kevin Kisner pipped him by a shot with a first-round 66. 

So what do you need to know about the 28-year-old who mixed five birdies with a bogey at Carnoustie? We sent our stats guys to do some digging...

1. Turned pro in 2013. van Rooyen waited four years to earn his breakthrough win at the 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship. A closing birdie helped to force a playoff, which he won after landing his approach to within a foot of the 73rd hole to beat fellow countryman Dylan Frittelli and Makhetha Mazibuko. Victory also earned him a two-year exemption on the Sunshine Tour. 

2. Later that year, he claimed his first title on the Challenge Tour at the Hainan Open. He ended 2017 third in the Race to Oman rankings to earn his European Tour card.

3. van Rooyen began his 2018 season early (in December last year) by finishing runner-up to Shubhankar Sharma in the Joburg Open to qualify for this year’s Open at Carnoustie.

4. Entering the final round of this year’s Irish Open at Ballyliffin, he led a field including Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy by four strokes. However, a two-over-par 74 dropped him into a tie for fourth place, two shots behind eventual winner Russell Knox.

5. Only two players on the European Tour have hit 75% of greens in regulation so far this season (minimum 30 rounds). Matthew Southgate is one; the other (yes, you guessed it) is van Rooyen.

6. In 15 events so far this season, he’s missed just five cuts, recorded four top 10s and earned 610,899 in prize money. He currently sits 34th in the Race to Dubai standings, with a world ranking of 144.