2023 World Wide Technology Championship grades: Erik van Rooyen claims second career PGA Tour victory

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Erik van Rooyen sprinted to the finish line with a back-nine 28 at the 2023 World Wide Technology Championship to claim his second career victory on the PGA Tour. Reaching 27 under for the tournament, van Rooyen emerged from a crowded leaderboard at El Cardonal that included Matt Kuchar, Camilo Villegas and Justin Suh.
With the victory, the 33-year-old locks up his PGA Tour card for the next two years, gains access into the signature events in 2024 and earns an invitation into the 2024 Masters after missing the proceedings at Augusta National this past year.
“I was calm because there is bigger stuff in life than golf,” said van Rooyen, fighting back tears. “If you look at my ball, there’s little music notes on there and the initials J.T., and it’s for my best friend who is not going to make it. Every shot out there today was for him.
“When you’re playing for something bigger than winning some silly little trophy, it puts it into perspective, and at the end of the day whether I won here or whether I lost here, it really did not matter. When something motivates you like that, whether you make the putt or miss the putt, who cares.”
Van Rooyen was a bit of an afterthought among the final group as they went to the inward half of the par 72. With Villegas coming out the gates hot with four birdies in his first six holes and Kuchar persisting, the South African kept his head and just plodded along as the two traded blows.
Kuchar’s lead grew to two with a birdie on the par-5 14th, but just as a sense of comfort began to engulf the veteran, van Rooyen and Suh made their presence heard. Roars echoed around the Tiger Woods design as Suh put a charge into the tournament one group ahead with a long-distance birdie on the par-3 16th to get within one.
Van Rooyen matched Suh’s effort when he stepped on the same dance floor and applied pressure on the frontrunner who faced 4 feet for par. Circling around the cup, Kuchar’s ball eventually settled to the bottom, but it only delayed the South African joining him atop. Another birdie from the blade of van Rooyen came on the 17th — his sixth of the back nine — and set the stage for the par-5 finisher.
Taking iron off the tee, van Rooyen was first to strike his second into the green. Lacing a fairway wood from 290 yards, van Rooyen saw his ball settle roughly 20 feet from the pin for eagle. Just as he did on the two holes prior, the smooth-swinging righter hander buried his par-breaker attempt and looked to the sky as victory was his. Grade: A+
Here are the grades for the rest of notables at the 2023 World Wide Technology Championship.
T2. Camillo Villegas (-25): The four-time PGA Tour winner seized control of the tournament early in the final round. Four birdies in his first six holes saw him grab a two-stroke lead before the par train took over. Despite his inability to convert with the putter, Villegas was still within one of Kuchar up until the par-5 14th. Pulling his tee shot left, the Colombian was forced to take an unplayable lie, incur a one-stroke penalty and ultimately save par to drop two adrift.
Villegas was unable to close the gap over the next four holes, but his effort did produce his first top 10 finish on the PGA Tour since the 2021 Honda Classic. A win would have been crucial for his future status as he played this season through the Past Champions category that has allowed for only 11 starts. Grade: A
T10. Ludvig Aberg (-19): The Swede had the Sunday sauce simmering yet again. A final-round 64 pushed Aberg’s name inside the top 10 and continued his high-level play that dates back to the end of the summer. The 23-year-old’s result in Mexico marks his seventh straight top 15 worldwide and has pushed him firmly inside the top 125 of the FedEx Cup meaning a Players Championship appearance in 2024 is in his future. Aberg hopes to add the Masters to that list, which can be achieved if he rises inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings by year end. Grade: A-
T15. Beau Hossler (-17): The FedEx Cup No. 51 and the lead man in the FedEx Cup Fall at the start of the week put together another quality outing. Hossler’s fifth straight top 30 of the fall has him 300 points clear of No. 60 with just two events left in the year. This finish should be enough to secure his spot in the first two signature events of the 2024, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational. He’ll forgo next week’s Bermuda Championship before likely putting a bow on the year at the RSM Classic. Grade: B
T54. Cameron Young (-13): The reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year broke his two-month hiatus from competition with a flawless opening 65. That was as good as it would get for Young as he disappointed over the next two days with rounds of 74 and 72 to get lapped by the field. He finished on a high note with a Sunday 64, but it marked another missed chance for the big-hitting right hander to enter the winner’s circle for the first time. Grade: C
MC. Sahith Theegala: Seven bogeys and a double bogey across Theegala’s first two rounds were enough to send him packing early. The Fortinet Championship winner’s volatility got the best of him and snapped a four tournament top-20 streak dating back to the FedEx Cup Playoffs. This is just a blip on the radar for Theegala, who has been playing with house money this fall thanks to finishing inside the top 50 of the FedEx Cup. Grade: F
Rick Gehman is joined by Greg DuCharme and Patrick McDonald to recap the 2023 World Wide Technology Championship. Erik van Rooyen cards a back nine 28 to win with a heavy heart in Mexico. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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