Garrick Higgo is using this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament in his hometown of Stellenbosch as the final tune-up of his game before he flies to Portugal for the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School next week.
It took Higgo just three months after securing his Sunshine Tour card to win his first tournament on the Tour. And there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be hoping for the same when he travels to Portugal next week
He’s made a phenomenal start to his professional career, first winning a tournament on the Big Easy Tour and then three weeks after that breaking through on the main Sunshine Tour with his win in the Sun City Challenge. This was all the more impressive because it came on the vaunted Gary Player Country Club course.
‘You know, I won on the Big Easy Tour which was nice. But getting that first Sunshine Tour victory means so much more. And then winning on the Gary Player Country Club course, a proper golf course like that, makes it mean even more special,’ said Higgo.
With that win came a whole reset of his goals for the season, including gaining his European Tour card and even making a run at the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title. He’s currently ranked sixth on the local money list after only seven tournaments.
‘To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to have this kind of success so soon. I’m just out here trying to get better every week.
‘But I’ve secured my Sunshine Tour card now. So I’ve had to relook some goals and see what benefits come out of finishing high on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. I’ve kind of figured it out and it’s motivated me a lot, even for me to try and win the Order of Merit this year.
‘I’ve got the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School in Portugal next week. Then I’ll be back to play the rest of the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournaments, and then all the big summer events here. That was another big goal of mine this season – trying to get into all of those big events. And with my win now I’ve achieved that.’
A tournament he’s particularly excited about is the South African Open.
‘It’s going to be my first time competing in the South African Open as a professional. I did it as an amateur and made the cut. So it’s going to be a different experience for me. As an amateur it was all about just trying to make the cut and taking in the experience. But now as a pro I can compete and hopefully try and get the job done there as well.’
A victory this week on the Vodacom Origins of Golf series would also be a major milestone in Higgo’s rapidly improving career. Some big names in South African golf have won on this series, including Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Thomas Aiken, George Coetzee, Justin Harding and Hennie Otto.
‘A win this week in Stellenbosch, where I live, would be awesome. I do know this golf course very well. I love the greens. There’s not much grain and they’re never really that quick, which is my style. And if you’re underneath the trees here you can still hit a miracle shot on to the green. You need good tee shots here, and then putting is crucial.
‘You’re going to have to make lots of putts here because it is tight and if you miss the fairway you’re dealing with trees so you have to punch it out most times. And it’s great to sleep in your own bed for a change and have just a three-minute drive to the tournament.’
But if next week in Portugal leads to the European Tour card Higgo is aiming for, sleeping in his own bed will become even more of a luxury going forward.
Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield