By: James Colgan May 21, 2021
A meltdown that won’t soon be forgotten.
For two days at the PGA Championship, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island has pushed its competitors to the edge.
On late Friday afternoon, it pushed one of them over.
Erik Van Rooyen, who entered the day at even par and a handful of strokes off the lead, exited the day with the golf world’s biggest blowup in 2021. The implosion — or, perhaps more accurately, explosion — was swift, but left an iron and a tee marker forever changed.
It all started on the 14th hole, otherwise known as the beginning of Kiawah’s hilariously difficult closing stretch. The five ocean-adjacent closing holes have been the hardest on the course through two days of play. Each of the five holes has played directly into the wind on both days of competition, yielding a gobsmacking 367 bogeys-or-worse during Thursday’s opening round alone.
By: Luke Kerr-Dineen
On Friday, the closing stretch yielded at least four bogeys or worse. We know this because we can look at Van Rooyen’s scorecard to see that on holes 14, 15, 16 and 17, he recorded four consecutive bogeys or worse. The fourth, and most inflammatory, came on the 17th hole — a ridiculous par-3 that belongs on the short list of most intimidating tee shots in professional golf. A 200-plus-yard forced carry greets those wishing to challenge No. 17 from the back tees, which Van Rooyen approached at the apex of his slowly stoked rage.
As luck would have it, he would join the growing list of pros to dunk his tee shot on the 17th into the water. And as luck would not have it for either his iron or the 17th tee marker, Van Rooyen was rather upset with that development. So upset, it turned out, he would smash his iron into the tee marker twice, snapping the clubhead CLEAN OFF the club in the process.
Check out the video below.
To his credit, Van Rooyen is far from the only one to express frustration — physically or otherwise — with the Ocean Course.
Swirling winds, diabolical pin locations and danger around every corner have presented some of the most difficult major championship conditions in recent memory. Bryson DeChambeau, who revels in carnage, admitted Thursday that the Ocean Course was toughest he’d played in his career. Shane Lowry, winner of the most recent Open Championship, said he was “goosed” trying to conquer the wind. Even Brooks Koepka, who conquered the similarly devilish U.S. Open at Shinnecock, admitted the conditions were “tough.”
Still, that didn’t stop social media from reveling in Van Rooyen’s meltdown.
Van Rooyen would go on to make triple-bogey on the hole, shooting nine over for the day. The 31-year-old won’t play the weekend at the Ocean Course, but his performance will live on in the memory of carnage-loving fans everywhere.
As for that iron? Well, we’re guessing it landed in the nearest garbage can.
James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.