Erik van Rooyen birdied the last to overcome Matthew Fitzpatrick in a thrilling final day battle and win his first European Tour title at the Scandinavian Invitation.
The South African was last season’s European Challenge Tour Graduate of the Year and arrived at Hills Golf & Sports Club having finished second three times on the European Tour – twice on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
He entered the final day in Gothenburg with a one shot lead and was caught by Fitzpatrick and local hero Henrik Stenson but led by two at the turn and stretched that lead to three on the back nine.
Fitzpatrick – the 2016 champion – was tenacious in producing a birdie-birdie finish in a 64 and when Van Rooyen bogeyed the 17th, the players were tied at 18 under.
But the 29-year-old made a gutsy closing birdie from 15 feet on the par five last to match Fitzpatrick’s 64 and get to 19 under, securing his maiden win and moving him inside the top ten on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.
Stenson thrilled the home fans with a hole-in-one at the sixth in a closing 66 that moved him to 14 under alongside South African Dean Burmester – who carded the same score. The Swede took advantage of the par five third and then produced maybe the highlight of the week with his one bounce ace at the sixth sending the crowd wild and moving him into a share of the lead.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson, American Sihwan Kim, France’s Alexander Levy, Australian Wade Ormsby and home favourite Sebastian Soderberg were 13 under.
Erik van Rooyen: ”It’s too good, it’s hard to describe. I was so nervous on 18. 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’ve got to credit Alex, he’s been unbelievable today and ever since he’s been on the bag since February. I’m just so proud of myself and Alex and everybody, I’m over the moon.
”Our job today was just hit one shot at a time and commit. I didn’t know where I was at until 16, I saw I had a three shot lead, and I knew when I made bogey on 17 it was going to be tight.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: ”I didn’t put a foot wrong, I didn’t really miss a shot. I hate to say it, but I had no luck out there. I was playing some really good golf, it was nice to be in the mix again.
”I’m really comfortable with where my game is at, another second place so hopefully we’ll have one better later this year. I was playing really well and that helps massively. If you’re grinding for pars and struggling to try and stay in it that makes it a bit more difficult, but I just felt really comfortable out there.
”Well played Erik, it’s a great final round to start out with the lead, shoot that, and win by one.”
Henrik Stenson: ”I had a couple of good holes, one in particular, but all in all I didn’t have my sharpest game.
”Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the bottom of the pin. I hit a very nicely struck seven iron and it was flying straight at it, so I had my hopes. It was kind of sitting down in a bowl and going straight at it.
”I don’t think all of the crowd could see it either, some seemed more excited than others. It wasn’t until we reached the front of the green that I realised it was in.”