MEXICO CITY – Midway through the opening round at the WGC-Mexico Championship, it appeared that this was not going to be Erik van Rooyen’s week.
The South African was 3 over through nine holes when his replacement caddie, his trainer who stepped in when his normal caddie was too sick to work, offered some encouragement.
“He said, 'Just see your line and chip it in.' He's a gamer, I guess,” said van Rooyen, who chipped in for eagle at the par-4 first hole to set the stage for a back-nine 31 and a 1-under 70.
The momentum continued on Friday at Club de Golf Chapultepec with back-to-back birdies to start his day and a bogey-free 62 to tie the course record and move into second place, just a shot behind Bryson DeChambeau.
His solid play is particularly well-timed, with van Rooyen celebrating his 30th birthday on Friday.
“The first thing I told my wife this morning, man, I feel really old. But I guess I'm still quite young, and what a way to kick off the 30th and shoot 9 under,” he smiled. “A little bit of a gift to myself.”
Van Rooyen is also vying for a spot in next month’s Players Championship. He’s currently 52nd in the world ranking and needs to crack the top 50 by March 4.