Erik Van Rooyen needs a caddie for the PGA Tour’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota, starting on Thursday. That’s because his usual bagman, Alex Gaugert, booked a spot into the 156-man field on Monday. Gaugert, who is listed as a resident of nearby Edina, shot 6-under 65 at Victory Links and survived a 4-for-3 playoff to earn his first PGA Tour start.
Gaugert, a Wisconsin native, and Van Rooyen, a South African, were teammates on the University of Minnesota golf team. Gaugert helped his team with the 2014 Big Ten Conference championship and later that year he won the Wisconsin State Amateur. He turned pro and beat around the mini tours for a while but has been on the bag of Van Rooyen for the past four years. (Maybe his brother, Austin, who caddies for Patrick Rodgers and was on the bag when he lost a playoff to Akshay Bhatia at the Barracuda Championship Sunday, can fill in.)
Alex Gaugert still likes to scratch that competitive itch from time to time.
“I’m a PGA of America member so I’ll play in some little events here and there,” he told Wisconsin.Golf’s Gary D’Amato in 2022. “You learn a ton being out here, what it really takes and how it can get done.”
Gaugert, 30, got it done despite making a bogey on the par-5 second hole. He heated up with three birdies on the front nine, tacked on a birdie at No. 12 and then closed with an eagle at the par-5 16th and a birdie at 17, his third deuce on the card for the day.
Van Rooyen posted, “What a stud. Anyone want to loop this week!”
— Erik van Rooyen (@FredVR_) July 25, 2023
Gaugert wasn’t the only of the four qualifiers who was happy to make it through. Daniel Gale of Georgia earned his first Tour start too, torching the back nine in 8-under 28, which included making six birdies in a seven-hole stretch and eagling the par-4 18th en route to a sizzling course-record 60 and was medalist by five strokes.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 24, 2023
Ryan French of Monday Q Info posted on social media that Noah Hofman, who also posted 66, played in the Colorado Open on Sunday and had his flight delayed that night. He ended up on a flight Monday for the qualifier in Minnesota that didn’t land until 9:05 a.m., drove 40 minutes to the course and had an 11:30 a.m. tee time. Now he’s in the field for his PGA Tour debut.
Kaito Onishi, who played his college golf at USC, is the fourth qualifier and set to make his fourth career start on the PGA Tour this season. He finished 76th in the no-cut Zozo Championship in October and missed two other cuts, most recently at the John Deere Classic earlier this month.