Erik van Rooyen outlasts Matthew Fitzpatrick for first European Tour win at Scandinavian Invitation

Anders Wiklund/EPA-EFE

Erik van Rooyen outlasts Matthew Fitzpatrick for first European Tour win at Scandinavian Invitation

Euro Tour

Erik van Rooyen outlasts Matthew Fitzpatrick for first European Tour win at Scandinavian Invitation

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It was only a matter of time before Erik van Rooyen earned his first European Tour win. His time came in the $1.65 million Scandinavian Invitation.

The University of Minnesota graduate walked off with his first European trophy after outlasting England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick in Gothenburg, Sweden. Van Rooyen holed an 18-foot birdie putt at the last to defeat a charging Fitzpatrick by one shot.

The 29-year-old South African returned a second consecutive 64 to reach 19-under-par 261. He walked off with a check for $275,000. Fitzpatrick earned $184,000. Local hero Henrik Stenson shared third place on 14-under with Dean Burmester of South Africa. They each picked up $93,000.

LEADERBOARD: Scandinavian Invitation

Van Rooyen was already a winner in the professional game before this victory. He won the 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship on his native Sunshine Tour in South Africa. However, he must have been wondering if he would ever get over the line in Europe.

The six foot three inch Johannesburg resident arrived at the Hills Golf & Sports Club with five top-10s this season, including runner-up finishes in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and the Trophée Hassan II. He was also second in last season’s Joburg Open.

No wonder he was beginning to wonder if he would ever get that first W on the European circuit. That first win seemed in the bag when he had a three-shot lead on the back nine. However, he three-putted the 17th to drop a shot, and Fitzpatrick birdied the final two holes to draw level.

“I was so nervous on 18,” van Rooyen admitted. “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 all day 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. I’m just so proud of myself and Alex and everybody, I’m over the moon.”

Van Rooyen finished 38th on last year’s money list in his rookie season. He’s a safe bet to finish much higher this season. Don’t be surprised if he does so with another win, now that he knows how to get over the line.

Fitzpatrick is still looking for his first victory of the year after at least one victory per season since 2015. This latest runner-up was his third of the year following the Honma Hong Kong Open and BMW International. He looks odd on to get that victory between now and the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

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