This emotional winning reaction is a Cool Golf Thing

Act like you've never been there before.
Erik Van Rooyen's cathartic reaction to his first PGA Tour win was a refreshing departure from other pros' muted displays of late.

Is it me, or have golf tournament winners' reactions become overly subdued of late? Erik van Rooyen's primal yell to celebrate his win in the Barracuda Championship caught me off-guard in a good way.

The South African and former University of Minnesota golfer is no stranger to winning in his career. He captured a Sunshine Tour event in February 2017 and one on the Challenge Tour eight months later. He won the European Tour's Scandinavian Invitation in 2019, holing a 10-foot birdie putt to pass runner-up Matthew Fitzpatrick and dropped his putter and basked, arms outstretched, in the sunshine.

Erik van Rooyen celebrates his 2019 Scandinavian Invitation win, his first European Tour victory.

Fast-forward to this past Sunday, when Van Rooyen had two putts from a similar distance to win. When he canned the first one, he let out a big, primal yell and fist pump, wearing on his sleeve just how much the victory meant to him. Sure, it was an alternate-field PGA Tour event, but that didn't mean it wasn't a life-changing moment for a talented player.

Contrast van Rooyen's scream with the near non-reaction of Xander Schauffele to winning the Olympic Golf competition a week prior. Given the circumstances - he needed to get up and down from about 100 yards to win outright - I would have expected something more demonstrative, but if SoCal cool even in the most dramatic moments is Schauffele's calling card, so be it. I'll be interested to see if he gets loud at the Ryder Cup, which tends to turn even the most staid players into rabid celebrators.

Having been treated to more than a decade of Tiger Woods' masterclasses in not just golf shots but celebrations of the greatest of those, put me in the camp that would love to see more players follow suit.

March 22, 2019
300 words or less, every other Friday.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
2 Comments
Commented on

I have to agree with you that expressing positive emotions when winning is a natural reaction, or perhaps should be. I can't imagine why any touring pro, after working so hard to win a tournament, would not feel joy and somehow express it. Some will be more demonstrative than others, but some may well be suppressing it.

I remember the great writer Dan Jenkins (Sports Illustrated) constantly criticizing tour pros for being too robotical, and I think he was right. Some of that continues to this day, although generally tour pros seem more expressive.

Your observations are perceptive.

Commented on

Clickbait. Nice try attempting to make a non-story into a story. I was there, too, and Erik's brief celebration was just like nearly every other winning golfer's... and just as forgettable.

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This emotional winning reaction is a Cool Golf Thing