Van Rooyen’s 63 leads the best way after Day 1 of Mexico Open

VALLARTA, Mexico — Erik van Rooyen made two eagles Thursday on his option to an 8-under 63 for a one-shot lead within the Mexico Open at Vidanta, a robust begin in his bid to win a second PGA Tour title in Mexico within the final 4 months.

Van Rooyen hit 3-iron to six ft for eagle on the par-5 sixth gap at Vidanta Vallarta, after which pitched in on the par-5 twelfth for a second eagle. His lone mistake was a mushy bogey when an easy chip ran 7 ft by the opening on the fifteenth and he missed the par putt.

Sami Valimaki of Finland, one of many 10 gamers from the DP World Tour who earned PGA Tour playing cards this yr, shot 64. He salvaged par when he hit a fairway metallic into the hazard on the par-5 sixth, adopted by a drive to 12 ft for eagle on the reachable par-4 seventh.

Cristobal del Photo voltaic of Chile, who set the Korn Ferry Tour file two weeks in the past with a 57 within the Bogota Championship, was amongst these at 65.

Van Rooyen was raised in South Africa, performed faculty golf at Minnesota and may’t clarify why he has such a great really feel for golf in Mexico.

He received the World Huge Expertise Championship final November at Cabo San Lucas, an emotional victory coming per week earlier than his faculty teammate died of most cancers. 4 years in the past, his first time in severe rivalry on an enormous stage was the World Golf Championship at Chapultepec in Mexico Metropolis. He performed within the last group with Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas and tied for third.

However coastal programs and the altitude of Mexico Metropolis are nothing alike.

“If I take into consideration Chapultepec a couple of years in the past, the WGC we had there was kikuyu grass, bent grass greens, that’s what I grew up on. A bit bit completely different right here,” van Rooyen mentioned. “I don’t know what it’s — obtained to be the meals, the individuals, the entire shebang.”

The timing doesn’t harm. Van Rooyen was in a position to get into the AT&T Pebble Seaside Professional-Am, one of many signature occasions, as a result of the sector needed to be crammed to 80 gamers with amateurs (he completed sixty fifth within the FedEx Cup final yr). The Mexico Open is the primary of two PGA Tour occasions wherein the main 5 gamers get into the subsequent signature occasion at Bay Hill.

He cared extra about how effectively he was swinging, notably his irons. The proof got here on the sixth gap, when his strategy hopped off the perimeter and rolled to six ft.

“Greedily, I really feel like I left a couple of on the market,” van Rooyen mentioned “Then once more, a shot like 6, the 3-iron I had into that par 5 turned out nice. I’m not planning to hit it to six ft to that flag. A give-and-take in golf, and actually pleased with the spherical.”

Del Photo voltaic was joined at 65 by David Lipsky, Henrik Norlander of Norway and MJ Daffue of South Africa. Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, who on Wednesday obtained a particular invitation to play within the Masters, was within the group at 66.

Defending champion Tony Finau drove into the water on the par-4 eighth, his seventeenth gap of the spherical, and took double bogey. He completed with a birdie and opened with a 69.

The match follows a busy West Coast swing of Pebble Seaside, Phoenix and Riviera, and it comes per week earlier than the Florida swing begins on the street to the Masters. It attracted solely 4 gamers from the highest 50 on the earth rating.

The winner will get an invite to the Masters. Solely eight gamers within the discipline, together with particular invites to Olesen and Ryo Hisatsune, are already eligible.

Santiago de la Fuente of Mexico opened with a 67. He is also headed to the Masters from successful the Latin America Newbie Championship final month.

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