South Africa’s Garrick Higgo pulled off his first PGA Tour win on Sunday in only his second start as he held his nerve to take the Palmetto Championship at Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, South Carolina by one stroke.
The 22-year-old left-hander from De Zalze Golf Club in Stellenbosch, whose first PGA Tour appearance yielded a 64th-place finish in the PGA Championship, carded a final round of three-under 68 for a tournament total of 11-under-par.
He stayed calm as the likes of world number one Dustin Johnson, long-time final round leader Chesson Hadley and the hard-charging Harris English were unable to hold it together, and, in the end, when Hadley bogeyed the final hole, Higgo allowed himself the luxury of celebration.
“It’s amazing,” said Garrick Higgo, as he drank it all in.
“I just stayed patient all week. I’ve worked so hard with my coach on my short game and my putting, and I guess all that has paid off.”
It’s his fourth title in under a year, after his breakthrough win came in the Open de Portugal on the European Tour in September last year.
Then, in the space of two weeks at the end of may and in early April, he took the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open and the Canary Islands Championship, also on the European Tour, which catapulted him into the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking and into his first major championship, the PGA Championship.
His victory now on the PGA Tour continues his dizzying rise to the very top of the pile in world golf, and he will head into next week’s US Open Championship as one of the form players, if not one of the favourites.
The win also opens an incredible number of doors for Garrick Higgo, as he becomes a full member of the PGA Tour with exemption until the end of the 2023 season.
It will also got him to 39th in the world, taking him past Christiaan Bezuidenhout and making him likely one of South Africa’s two representatives in the Olympic Games together with Louis Oosthuizen.
In the end, Higgo was very aware of where he comes from as he launches his career into what is effectively the golfing stratosphere: “Europe and South Africa have been vital in my game getting to where it is now,” he said.
“The Sunshine Tour, if it wasn’t for the Sunshine Tour I wouldn’t be here now, so I can’t thank the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour enough for giving us the platform to play.”
Now there will be two left-handers to keep an eye on in the US Open – and only one of them is Phil Mickelson!
Leading scorers after Sunday’s final round of the US PGA Tour’s Palmetto Championship at Congaree (par-71, USA unless noted):
273 – Garrick Higgo (RSA) 68-69-68-68
274 – Hudson Swafford 68-70-70-66, Doc Redman 65-72-70-67, Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 66-72-69-67, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 71-68-67-68, Bo Van Pelt 69-71-66-68, Chesson Hadley 65-66-68-75
275 – Ryan Armour 71-69-71-64, David Lipsky 71-70-67-67
276 – Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG) 71-70-69-66, Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 65-71-72-68, Pat Perez 70-66-71-69, Dustin Johnson 65-68-73-70
South Africa’s greatest ever sportsman, Gary Player, was quick to congratulate South Africa’s newest member of the PGA Tour winning club in a post-round phone call.
Player, now aged 85, with nine Major titles to his name, took to social media to add: Seeing Garrick Higgo win his first PGA TOUR event in only his second start has been one of the most enjoyable things for me to witness in my career. He is without a doubt the most humble, well mannered young man that you could wish to meet. From the time I have spent with him, I am confident that he is destined for greatness and I am excited to see what his future holds.
Seeing @garrick_higgo win his first PGA Tour event in only his second start has been one of the most enjoyable things for me to witness in my career. He is without a doubt the most humble, well mannered young man that you could wish to meet. Watch this space, big things to come! pic.twitter.com/US5Qho6bL3
— GARY PLAYER (@garyplayer) June 13, 2021