Boland junior Garrick Higgo underlined his rising star status when he captured the Golf RSA Nomads National Order of Merit Coastal on Monday.
Picking up where he left off last year, the 17-year-old reigning Central Gauteng Open champion started his 2017 season on a winning note when he closed out a three shot victory on 14-under-par 205 on a windy final day at Royal Durban Golf Club.
A trio of birdies at his home course sent local favourite Sebastian Terblanche soaring to sole second, while Southern Cape junior Christo Lamprecht cemented his number one ranking with a third place finish at eight under.
Higgo posted rounds of 69 and 68 in the wet weather on Sunday to finish two off the pace from fellow Boland golfer Tyron Davidowitz.
The De Zalze golfer started with a bogey, but birdied the fifth to stay in touch with Davidowitz. He suffered another setback with a double bogey at the short sixth, but rallied with an eagle at the par five seventh to take the lead.
‘I struggled to find the pace of the greens over the first few holes on the front nine,’ Higgo said.
‘They were slow into the wind – running at around eight or nine – but very fast and slippery with the wind behind us, rolling at least 13. I was too tentative and three-putted the first hole and I got too aggressive with the par-putt at the sixth and ended making a double.
‘I hit a great drive down the seventh and had 92 metres left to the pin. I went with a soft gap-wedge and hit it to 10 feet and boxed the putt. That eagle set me up for the back nine.’
Higgo’s lead went unchallenged as he notched a trio of birdies around the turn and bagged a pair of gains at 13 and 14. He reversed a bogey at 15 with birdie number seven.
Successive pars at 17 and 18 ensured that he finished ahead of a charging Terblanche, who eagled three of the four par fives (seven, 13 and 18).
‘That was hugely impressive by Sebastian,’ Higgo said. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen three eagles in a single round and he deserves huge kudos for such an amazing feat. Luckily we ran out of holes.’
During the December holidays, Higgo competed in two prestigious events in the United States where he tied for second in the Greg Norman Junior Invitational and tied for 11th finish in the A-Rated South Beach.
‘Playing in those two top ranked events in the United States was incredible because you compete against the top ranked amateurs in the world and you experience playing on different grasses and conditions,’ Higgo said.
‘It was really a huge privilege, because it also showed up shortcomings in my game and the areas I need to improve on. I hope to contest in a some of the top events this year, like the SA Stroke Play and the Sanlam SA Amateur, so starting the season on a high note is great, because it gives you that little boost of confidence early in the season.’
By Lali Stander
Final Result (top 20)
205 Garrick Higgo 69 68 68
208 Sebastian Terblanche 71 67 70
211 Christo (Jnr) Lamprecht 69 70 72
212 NJ Botha 71 71 70
213 Christiaan Burke 71 71 71; Tyron Davidowitz 70 65 78