Rolex Series

Van Rooyen living the dream in Dubai

Erik van Rooyen was relishing his position as a truly global player as he put himself right in contention for a first Rolex Series victory at the 2022 Dubai Desert Classic.

Erik van Rooyen

The South African enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2017, winning on his native Sunshine Tour and on the European Challenge Tour as he earned a debut season on the DP World Tour.

After a successful rookie campaign brought five top tens in 2018, he won his maiden DP World Tour title the following season and made it back-to-back top-15 finishes in the Rankings in 2020.

His quest to become a worldwide competitor saw him focus his attentions on the United States in 2021 and the tactic bore fruit as he claimed a maiden US PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship - which this season is part of the DP World Tour International Schedule.

After a tie for 12th at last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, he has now carded rounds of 69-67 at Emirates Golf Club and is loving life on the world stage.

"I think it's fantastic," he said. "It's something I've always wanted to do as a kid: play here, play mainland Europe, play in the US. Got the best of both, really, so I'm a happy man.

"It's what we play for, to be in contention, especially in these Rolex events. I'm happy that the Dubai Desert Classic is one as well. Can't wait for Sunday."

The World Number 63's spectacular moustache is getting almost as much attention as his golf game of late, and the 31-year-old admits it is not just his swing that requires work to be kept in tip-top shape.

"It has a life of its own right now and it kind of tells me what to do - no, I'm kidding," he said.

"It takes more work than you think. I've got a pair of scissors, the brush, the whole works. I need an extra ten minutes in the morning."

Fabrizio Zanotti was alongside Van Rooyen at eight under as he looks to turn his consistency into a third DP World Tour win.

The Paraguayan missed just two cuts last season from 17 events and was keeping it simple in the UAE.

"Really, really happy to be there, to be in contention for the weekend," he said. "That was the idea so I am very happy with the plan I make.

"I'm just trying to do the same. Basically, just put a number and hit a shot for a number. And on the greens, pick a spot and try to hit that spot and try to keep it simple.

"I feel like last year, I finished with a lot of confidence with my golf swing and this year I came the same way.

"Last week was a little freaky with the wind on the golf course but this week, I put it back and I feel confident again with my swing.

"It's always a great tournament and I always enjoy a lot to come and play here in Dubai. And now this tournament is a Rolex Series, I think it's much better, so it's really good."

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