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Reigning Barracuda Championship winner Erik Van Rooyen weighs in on his 2022 season

Erik Van Rooyen
Erik Van Rooyen celebrates with the 2021 Barracuda Championship trophy. (File photo)

As the PGA Tour starts to enter a busy summer of majors, WGC events and the eventual USA vs. International Presidents Cup, the Barracuda Championship can be a foreshadow to who might be one of the tour's next big stars. Last year's winner, Erik Van Rooyen, joined Alex Margulies during Wednesday's NSN Daily to discuss how his Barracuda win helped propel his career and what he's looking forward to this season.

"It was a special week in so many ways," Van Rooyen said. "My wife gave birth about 2 months prior. I barely spent any time with my daughter up until then. I've been playing the best of golf, and to crack in and win that tournament, it was really a special week. The trophy is just standing here on a table as I can look at it every day. It was a great week for me. I won Barracuda and then played some of the best golf, got all the way through to the Tour Championship in a matter of a few weeks. Now for every major championship this year, I've got a two-year exemption because of my win. I used it as a springboard, and that's kind of what that tournament can offer you."

Van Rooyen won last year's Barracuda by five points in the Modified Stableford format, which awards points for each hole rather than basing it on total stroke (Van Rooyen had 50 points to 45 for second-place Andrew Putnam). Van Rooyen explained how the course at Old Greenwood and format was something he was used to being a South African native.

"The golf course and the setting, it is definitely unique," he said. "In Johannesburg, South Africa, we've got some some crazy elevation as well. I guess I used that to my advantage because I was somewhat used to it. It's not too many places in the world where you're hitting a 7 iron over 200 yards, so that aspect of it was unique. Then the format was something that I quite enjoyed. With the Stableford format, it lends itself to probably a bit more grace of golf, knowing that birdies were 2 points, bogeys were minus 1 and an Eagles was 5. Making an eagle, it's massive. I did that on Sunday, and it sort of kickstarted me and got me right back into the mix. So that makes the tournament really exciting."

Van Rooyen is ranked 114th in the FedExCup Standings this season with a chance to propel up the leaderboards in next week's PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. He's made eight cuts in 11 PGA Tour starts and has two top-15 finishes in his last three outings, including a 10th-place showing at RBC Heritage in his last event.

"It's been an interesting year for me since January," Van Rooyen said. "I've played really well on the DP World Tour in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Then I fell flat just a bit over here, kicked up some form again around The Players, and then played really well at the RBC Heritage a few weeks back. Then I hurt my back. I've been struggling with a little bit of a back issue, so I'm hoping to be good next week for the PGA (Championship). That's the goal, but I haven't really swung the club since then, so it's been an interesting year for me. That said, I've played some great golf, like at RBC Heritage. I feel like I was kicking on at the right time during the season right in between major season. So I'm excited for what's coming."

The 2022 Barracuda Championship at Old Greenwood in Truckee takes place from July 14-17. You can purchase tickets here.

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