AUGUSTA, GA. – As a service to Minnesota golf fans, former Gopher Erik van Rooyen provided a tour of Augusta National Golf Course on Thursday, teeing off in the first pairing, popping his name onto the massive leaderboards and proving how charming yet diabolical a round at the Masters can be.

The 34-year-old South African made an improbable birdie after hitting a 7-iron under a patron's chair on No. 9, reached 4 under par with a birdie on 13, then made bogeys on three of the last five holes to finish at 1 under.

The highlight of his round occurred on the tricky, slippery ninth green. He hit his approach over the green, and it finished under a chair. The fans sat still until an official asked them to move themselves and their chairs.

Van Rooyen walked onto the green, smiled, and said, "Sorry, guys, I was trying to hit it by the hole." Then he took his putter, eased the ball through the fringe and onto the green, and it snuck into the left side of the hole.

Van Rooyen pumped his fist. Alex Gaugert, his caddie and former Gophers teammate, turned to him and said, "What a stupid game."

Rains delayed the start of the tournament by 2½ hours. Van Rooyen teed off in the first grouping with Jake Knapp, and took advantage of soft conditions … until the eighth hole.

Van Rooyen hit his second shot on the par 5 well over the green, making par instead of taking advantage of an obvious birdie hole.

Those following van Rooyen felt the wind begin to gust and swirl around the eighth green. The wind affected his approach to the ninth, and caused him problems throughout the back nine.

"Right sort of through the turn, it started picking up," van Rooyen said. "[No.] 12 was again one that was really strange. Supposed to be a bit in off the left. I've watched this tournament how many times as a kid, and you hear about how it swirls. It's only my third time playing, and I definitely experienced it there. It wasn't supposed to go that long.

"Yeah, I'm really happy with shooting under par. Obviously a pity making a few bogeys on the back, but that's OK."

Van Rooyen has enlisted a famous instructor, Sean Foley, who gave him advice coming off the 18th green.

"My coach, Sean Foley, told me today that acceptance is going to be so key," van Rooyen said. "The person that's going to try and control every aspect of this game out there is probably going to struggle because you're going to hit great shots and make great swings, and it's not going to end up the way you thought, and that happened on 9, happened on 14, happened on 15 with me.

"That's golf."

Van Rooyen withdrew from his first Masters in 2020 because of an injury, and he missed the cut in 2022. Did he see his name on the leaderboards Thursday?

He smiled and said, "You can't really miss them, can you? I saw them all over the place. Yeah, it's cool to see your name up there, and hopefully we can continue that."