Van Rooyen gets over the line to claim maiden win at Scandinavian Invitation

ERIK van Rooyen birdied the last to overcome Matthew Fitzpatrick in a thrilling final day battle and win his first European Tour title at the Scandinavian Invitation.

The South African was last season’s European Challenge Tour Graduate of the Year. Van Rooyen arrived at Hills Golf & Sports Club having finished second three times on the European Tour – twice on the 2019 Race to Dubai.

The 29-year-old entered the final day in Gothenburg with a one-shot lead but was caught by Fitzpatrick and local hero Henrik Stenson. He then led by two at the turn and stretched that lead to three on the back nine.

Fitzpatrick – the 2016 champion – was tenacious in producing a birdie-birdie finish in his 64 and when Van Rooyen bogeyed the 17th, the players were tied at 18-under.

Van Rooyen then made a gutsy closing birdie from 15 feet on the par five last to match Fitzpatrick’s 64 and get to 19-under, securing his maiden win which moved him inside the top 10 on the Race to Dubai Rankings.

Van Rooyen said:It’s too good, it’s hard to describe. I was so nervous on 18. On 17 I was fine, I just didn’t hit that putt hard enough and then I asked (caddie) Alex, ‘what are we at?’ and he told me that Matt went birdie-birdie.

“I’ve been putting so well and to hole that one to win my first one is pretty cool. I’ve gone close a bunch of times and every time I’m in contention the question gets asked.

The new champion was quick to praise his caddy for his part in the breakthrough victory after runners up finishes at the Trophee Hassan II and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in the spring.

Van Rooyen said: “I’ve got to credit Alex, he’s been unbelievable and ever since he’s been on the bag since February. I’m just so proud of myself and Alex and everybody, I’m over the moon.

“Our job today was just hit one shot at a time and commit. I didn’t know where I was at until 16 – I saw I had a three-shot lead, and I knew when I made bogey on 17 it was going to be tight.”

Yorkshire’s Fitzpatrick, who missed out on the last Ryder Cup team after making his debut in 2016, was left bemoaning a lack of luck in his last round.

Fitzpatrick said: “I didn’t put a foot wrong, I didn’t really miss a shot. I hate to say it, but I had no luck out there. I was playing some really good golf, it was nice to be in the mix again.

“I’m really comfortable with where my game is at, another second place so hopefully we’ll have one better later this year.

“I was playing really well and that helps massively. If you’re grinding for pars and struggling to try and stay in it that makes it a bit more difficult, but I just felt really comfortable out there.

“Well played Erik, it’s a great final round to start out with the lead, shoot that, and win by one.”

Stenson thrilled the home fans with a hole-in-one at the sixth in a closing 66 that moved him to 14-under alongside South African Dean Burmester – who carded the same score.

The Swede took advantage of the par-five third and then produced maybe the highlight of the week with his one bounce ace at the sixth sending the crowd wild and moving him into a share of the lead.

Stenson admitted he was not at his best. He said afterwards: “I had a couple of good holes, one in particular, but all in all, I didn’t have my sharpest game.

Describing his ace Stenson added: “Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the bottom of the pin. I hit a very nicely struck seven-iron and it was flying straight at it, so I had my hopes. It was kind of sitting down in a bowl and going straight at it.

“I don’t think all of the crowd could see it either, some seemed more excited than others. It wasn’t until we reached the front of the green that I realised it was in.”

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, American Sihwan Kim, France’s Alexander Levy, Australian Wade Ormsby and home favourite Sebastian Soderberg were in a share of fourth on 13-under.

Related Articles

, , , , , ,

Designed & Managed by Windrush Group - Oxford