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JERSEY CITY N.J. -- Erik van Rooyen got his first Tour win two weeks ago at the Barracuda Championship and now is in contention to win a FedExCup playoff event after a Day 3 62 has him third at The Northern Trust.
But it hasn't been smooth sailing for van Rooyen this season. He withdrew from the '20 Masters with a back injury and after returning in January, he didn't make any noise on Tour for three months. Then after three top-20 finishes, he missed four straight cuts in May - reaching his boiling point at the PGA Championship when he destroyed a tee marker in a tantrum.
"[Destroying the tee marker] was probably one of the low points of my career," said van Rooyen, who's one stroke off the lead at 15 under. "It's not really like me to do stuff like that, but obviously did it and I apologized for it. Still pretty embarrassed about it. I've moved on and I hope the rest of the people can."
Full-field scores from The Northern Trust
The 31-year-old South African did in fact move on quickly, finishing T-10 the following week at Congaree but missed his next two cuts in the season's next two majors.
"[The season has been] up-and-down, definitely," he said. "Lots of down. I've only sort of found my feet the last month or so, and I saw glimpse of it earlier, like take the U.S. Open qualifier, for example, played really well. Finish I've been riddled with little niggles here and there, hurt my neck at the U.S. Open which didn't help and setback again, went home for three weeks, not touch a club and then you've got The Open Championship coming up.
"But throughout that, there was glimpse of really good stuff and I hung on to that and it's coming through now."
The tides started to turn when he became a father in early July. Yes, shortly after his daughter was born he missed the cut at The Open and was T-58 at the 3M Open.
But then after a week off, he went to Truckee, California, with a new title off the course (a father) and his first PGA Tour title on the course, winning the Barracuda. Since then everything's come together and he's got a new pep in his step.
"For me, the biggest thing, I didn't know you could love something so much, like, instantly," he said. "That was the biggest thing. I don't feel like all of a sudden I'm sort of playing for someone else or anything like that. But I just - you're a bit lighter when you walk off the course because you get to look into your daughter's eyes and everything's okay."