Boland junior Garrick Higgo bounced back from a narrow loss in last week’s Bobby Locke Open to celebrate success in the Central Gauteng Open on Sunday.
The 16-year-old from De Zalze fired rounds of 68, 70 and 67 at the East Course of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to triumph on 11-under-par 205. He signed off with a birdie-eagle finish in the weather-reduced event to edge out Combrinck Smit from KwaZulu-Natal by one shot.
The win marked a second visit to the winner’s circle in Central Gauteng this season for the reigning Curro SA Junior International Boys champion.
Higgo highlighted his rising star status when he won the Pro Shop Northern Amateur Championship at Randpark Golf Club in March and came agonisingly close again at Parkview Golf Club last week.
He led through the first two rounds of the event but was pipped at the post by Shaun Stapleton, one of South Africa’s leading mid-amateurs. Stapleton was impressed by the young gun’s skills and tenacity and backed Higgo to win at least one of the remaining two tournaments in the trio of events on the Central Gauteng swing.
With the box ticked on the Central Gauteng Open, Higgo is hoping for a repeat performance in the prestigious Harry Oppenheimer Trophy, which tees off at Maccauvlei Golf Club on Tuesday.
‘I was definitely a little disappointed to not win the Bobby Locke, but Shaun played a really tough course better than me and he was a deserving champion,’ Higgo said.
‘I think there is a huge lesson in knowing that you can only control your own game. If another player runs hot there is very little you can do about it. The worst thing you can do is to try catch up. Inevitably that leads to silly mistakes. You should play to your best ability and let the result take care of itself.
‘The Central Gauteng Open win was down to a positive attitude, confidence in my game, a well-laid game plan and course management. I didn’t take unnecessary risks and I made the most when opportunities presented itself.
‘It was really great to win at the home of the Joburg Open and the Joburg Junior Open, because the East Course is a real beast. To come out on top at a tough course like that gave me a huge injection of confidence. After this weekend, I’m feeling really positive about my game and I am excited to take on the course at Maccauvlei.’
Higgo competed in the Harry Oppenheimer for the first time last year and said it was nice to come back with a sense of familiarity.
‘I played a practice round today and it’s nice to know the layout and what to expect so you can construct a game plan for this year,’ he said. ‘The course is looking great. It has been well prepared and it’s lush and green. The greens are running at medium pace, but they roll really well and I think the putter will be the key to winning this week.’
South Africa’s top-ranked Open Amateur Marco Steyn won the Closed on six under 209. The Modderfontein golfer returned rounds of 68, 70 and 71.
Final Result – Top 20
205 Garrick Higgo 68 70 67
206 Combrinck Smit 66 72 68
208 Therion Nel 71 68 69
209 Malcolm Mitchell 74 68 67; Marco Steyn 68 70 71