Erik van Rooyen Wins World Wide Technology Championship with Dramatic Finish
By Associated Press | Nov 5, 2023
LOS CABOS, Mexico – In a stunning turn of events, Erik van Rooyen emerged victorious at the World Wide Technology Championship after a thrilling final round on Sunday. The South African golfer sealed his victory with a remarkable 16-foot eagle putt on the par-5 closing hole, leaving spectators in awe.
Van Rooyen’s triumph came just a day after Matt Kuchar’s heartbreaking collapse, where he squandered a six-stroke lead in the closing stages of the tournament. Playing alongside Kuchar at the Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal at Diamante, van Rooyen showcased his exceptional skills, shooting a remarkable 9-under 63 and finishing at 27-under 261.
“Quite numb after that putt went in on 18,” van Rooyen expressed. “You imagine yourself full of euphoria and just being ecstatic, and I was just numb. I think it’s because of everything the past six days with my friend Jon [Trasamar] being so sick. I guess the moment just hasn’t hit me yet.”
Kuchar and Camilo Villegas both shot impressive rounds of 66, with the 45-year-old Kuchar managing to par the final four holes. However, it was van Rooyen’s exceptional performance that ultimately secured the victory, leaving Kuchar to reflect on what could have been.
“I’m pretty bummed,” Kuchar admitted. “You come out with a great chance to win a golf tournament – and the goal is to win a golf tournament. But I hold my head held high. Erik played incredible golf.”
The turning point for Kuchar came on Saturday when he held a comfortable six-stroke lead at 24 under. However, a wayward drive on the 15th hole led to a quadruple-bogey 8, followed by a bogey on the par-3 16th, ultimately resulting in a tie for the lead with Villegas.
“I think I played 71 really good holes,” Kuchar reflected. “It kind of turns out to be the difference; you need to play 72 good holes out here. I had one jump up and get me.”
Van Rooyen’s final round started with a bogey on the par-5 first hole, but he quickly regained his composure, making birdies on the second and sixth holes. The back-nine surge proved to be the defining moment of his victory, as he birdied holes 10 through 12, 14, 16, and 17, before sealing the win with a sensational eagle on the 18th.
“Things just turned on the back nine,” van Rooyen explained. “Great birdie on 10, almost holed it on 11, beautiful 13-, 14-footer on 12, left-right breaker in the heart, and you’re off and running. Just hung in there and made some awesome putts on 16, 17, and 18.”
Justin Suh secured fourth place at 24 under after an impressive final round of 65. Andrew Putnam (62) and Ryan Palmer (64) finished tied for fifth at 22 under.
The World Wide Technology Championship provided golf enthusiasts with a thrilling display of skill and determination, culminating in Erik van Rooyen’s well-deserved victory. As the golfing world celebrates his triumph, van Rooyen can now bask in the glory of his remarkable achievement.