• Rookie race: Sunshine Tour heats up

    Garrick Higgo
    Higgo is on the move

    The chase to the Bobby Locke Trophy is on and we’re in for an exciting ride. Here’s how the season has gone so far with more excitement to come.

    In a season when five of the first seven winners, in what is normally a 25-tournament schedule, are first-time winners and one a rookie, one can’t help but feel excitement building about the prospect of the future.

    In all seven tournaments played so far, there has been, at least, one rookie within the top 30. Paul Boshoff’s impressive second-place finish in the Royal Swazi Spa Challenge, Deon Germishuys and Hayden Griffiths coming eighth and ninth, respectively, in the same event was no fluke.

    Early in the season as it still is, but the look and feel of the Order of Merit, for example, is just different, with seven events done and dusted. While JC Ritchie continues to build himself into a super competitor who is in it to win it all the time, and is perched at the summit with only six events played, there are other names lurking. It’s the same with Daniel van Tonder. He is building some momentum after that Redpath Zambia Open win at the start of this season, and having already won a few times before then, the victory in Zambia was long in the making.

    In the midst of all the action, there’s a rookie going about his business quietly and making his numbers. When Van Tonder won at Nkana Golf Club, Juran Dreyer came 21st, when Ritchie won in Lusaka, it was Higgo who was runner-up. In the Investec Royal Swazi Open, James Allan came 30th and at the same venue for the Lombard Insurance Classic, Clinton Grobler finished 15th.

    The Sun City Challenge was massive for the look of the Tour this season, because when Higgo proved he was the real deal and bounced back from that loss to Ritchie with a win at the Gary Player Country Club, and with Kyle Barker and Allan coming fourth and 14th, respectively, suddenly the rookie of the year race got very interesting.

    Higgo consolidated his spot at the top with that fifth-place finish he got in the KCB Karen Masters in Nairobi, with Barker doing the same with his 25th place finish in eSwatini. Boshoff moved up from 17th to third while Griffiths also moves into the top 10, jumping from 14th to seventh.

    Darin de Smidt enters the top 10 too, this week, moving up from 11th to ninth while Grobler makes up the top 10, having dropped from seventh following his missed cut in eSwatini.

    Photo: Thinus Maritz/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

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