By Michael Vlismas
Erik van Rooyen was sitting in the playersâ€™ area at Randpark Golf Club on the first day of the South African Open hosted by the City of Joburg when his manager, Mitchell, arrived. The manager first handed Van Rooyenâ€™s caddie, a Liverpool fan, a football jersey for his baby girl. Then he turned to Van Rooyen and said, â€œAnd hereâ€™s a gift for youâ€.
â€œI knew immediately what it was,â€ said a delighted Van Rooyen as he opened his invitation from The Board of Governors of the Augusta National Golf Club to participate in the 2020 Masters.
â€œItâ€™s a pretty cool feeling. Itâ€™s a moment you dream of for a long time. Itâ€™s pretty special and Iâ€™m definitely going to frame the invitation and keep it,â€ Van Rooyen said on Friday.
This will be his debut in The Masters thanks to his finish inside the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of 2019.
â€œWhile I was at college in America we played a tournament nearby there in 2009 and they gave us tickets to the Monday practice round of the Masters. It was pretty cool to see. But to tee it up will be amazing.â€
And heâ€™s already been given his first bit of advice from fellow professional Branden Grace.
â€œBranden said that Iâ€™m going to spend all of my money buying Masters memorabilia â€“ cups, flags, caps, anything. Iâ€™ll do that for sure. You never know what route this game takes you, but the first Masters will always be special. My folks will be with me as well. So itâ€™s going to be really special.â€