Erik van Rooyen shrugged off injury concerns to open his Turkish Airlines Open account with a four-under-par 67 on Thursday at Regnum Carya Golf and Resort Spa.
The European Tour rookie, currently 34th in the Race to Dubai, was prevented from hitting balls on Wednesday due to a neck strain but with the help of rest and kinetic tape he took to the course for round one and in good form.
‘That’s not too shabby,’ said Van Rooyen post-round.
‘If the putts on the back nine had dropped, it could have been a 64 or 63, but you know, us golfers are always too greedy. If someone offered me 67 this morning, I would have taken it.
‘It was really annoying. The timing couldn’t be worse, because this is the business end of the season, but what can you do?
‘I had physio, left the clubs in the bag and had more physio on Wednesday morning, but I didn’t want to chance a practice round.’
Three birdies in his opening five holes, he teed off from the 11th, sent him to the top of the leaderboard as he worked his way from tee to green with relative ease. Unfortunately for the University of Minnesota alumnus, the birdies dried up with his next gain coming on the 4th hole.
Van Rooyen then saw his birdie effort on the 10th slide away on the low side as he signed for a bogey-free 67, currently three off the pace set by Ireland’s Paul Dunne.
Darren Fichardt birdied both of his closing holes to finish in the pile at -3 through 18 while George Coetzee signed for a 70 with Thomas Aiken one back at level for his first day’s play.
Dean Burmester joined former Masters winner Trevor Immelman in the group sharing 41st place after a one-over 71 with Brandon Stone, 18th in the Race to Dubai before this week, and Richard Sterne starting off the pace with 74s.