Get to know Open contenders Erik Van Rooyen, Zander Lombard and Brandon Stone

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While you were either asleep or getting ready for work in the morning, there's a good chance you missed the South African trio of Erik Van Rooyen, Zander Lombard and Brandon Stone surging to the top of The 147th Open Championship leaderboard. (If you were nobly up early to watch The Open at Carnoustie, we applaud you.)

Van Rooyen and Lombard were in a three-way tie for second after both players shot a 4-under 67, one stroke behind leader Kevin Kisner. Stone is one stroke behind his countrymen at 3-under as three of the top seven players on the leaderboard are from South Africa.

If you visit the Official World Golf Ranking's website, you won't see any of the three golfers' names in the top 100, which might lead you to ask, "Who are Erik Van Rooyen, Zander Lombard and Brandon Stone?"

Luckily, we have the answers.

Erik Van

Erik Van Rooyen

Age: 28

Home: Johannesburg, South Africa

Turned pro: 2013

OWGR: 144

Best finish at a major: N/A

How he qualified for The Open: Finished as the runner-up at the 2017 Joburg Open, earning an exemption to qualify.

Professional wins: 2 – 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship, 2017 Hainan Open

Van Rooyen is a former Minnesota Golden Gopher golfer who finished in second at the Big Ten Championship in 2013. He led Minnesota in stroke average as a junior (72.6) and senior (73.05), then turned pro later in 2013. He made his first start on the European Tour in 2014 before joining the tour this year. His opening-round 64 at the Joburg Open is his best round in 2018.

Zander Lombard at The Open.

Zander Lombard

Age: 23

Home: Pretoria, South Africa

Turned pro: 2014

OWGR: 444

Best finish at a major: T66 at The Open in 2016

How he qualified for The Open: Earned a full exemption by finishing T6 in the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open

Professional wins: 0

Lombard has played in 20 European Tour events this season, making the cut four times. His tied-for-sixth finish at the Irish Open is his best finish on the tour this year and his sixth top-10 finish of his career. Lombard's second-round 65 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters is his lowest round this year.

Brandon Stone at The Open.


Brandon Stone

Age: 25

Home: Pretoria, South Africa

Turned pro: 2013

OWGR: 110

Best finish at a major: T35 at the U.S. Open in 2017

How he qualified for The Open: Stone earned a full exemption after he won the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at 20-under.

Professional wins: 3 – 2018 Scottish Open, 2017 Alfred Dunhill Championship, 2016 BMW SA Open

Stone is coming off of his first win on the European Tour this season after shooting a final-round 60 at the Scottish Open last week. In 17 starts on the European Tour this season, Stone has made the cut eight times. The 147th Open Championship is his fifth start in a major and he finished T70 last year at The Open.