Over the past three weeks there have been a total of six South African victories on the European Tour and the European Challenge Tour. ANDRE HUISAMEN recaps the local dominance.
Garrick Higgo and Dean Burmester made light work of the European Tour Spanish Swing by claiming three straight wins in Las Palmas and Tenerife.
At the same time, the Sunshine Tour dominated the co-sanctioned events with the Challenge Tour on South African soil.
Compleat Golfer playing editor Brandon Stone kickstarted the run in Limpopo, before JC Ritchie and Wilco Nienaber secured wins in the Western Cape.
Gran Canaria Lopesan Open – Garrick Higgo (European Tour)
For the first time in his young career, Higgo took an overnight lead into a final round. The 21-year-old fought off Germany’s Maximilian Keiffer to seal a three-shot victory with a winning score of 25 under par across the four rounds. It was Higgo’s second European Tour triumph and sparked the South African love affair with the Canary Islands.
Limpopo Championship – Brandon Stone (Challenge Tour)
During the same weekend, Stone battled to an impressive victory at the first co-sanctioned event between the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour. With a host of international players in action at the Euphoria Estate, Stone stood tall to seal a playoff victory after edging out Hennie du Plessis, Oliver Bekker and Daniel van Tonder for the title.
Tenerife Open – Dean Burmester (European Tour)
Burmester moved into contention from the start and went into the final round only one stroke behind. He would, however, deliver a final-round spectacle in Tenerife, going nine under on the Sunday to claim a five-shot victory. Four years after his maiden Tour triumph, Burmester made it back-to-back SA victories in Spain.
Cape Town Open – JC Ritchie (Challenge Tour)
During a draining final round at the Royal Cape Golf Club, Ritchie also made strong inroads on the Sunday to secure a playoff battle with Jacques Blaauw. Two birdies on the 18th hole, once in regulation and once on the first playoff hole, had the 27-year-old Ritchie come out on top for his second career win on the Challenge Tour.
Canary Islands Championship – Garrick Higgo (European Tour)
After taking the lead during moving day, it was almost a given that Higgo would not be dethroned this past Sunday. The South African truly played with great resilience and drive to bag a six-shot victory with an incredible winning score of 27 under par for the week. It capped three consecutive SA wins on the Spanish Swing.
Dimension Data Pro-Am – Wilco Nienaber (Challenge Tour)
While Higgo was storming to victory in Tenerife, Nienaber battled bravely during the final round at Fancourt for his very first professional win. After coming close on both the European Tour and the Challenge Tour, Nienaber utilised his calm and focus over the past 12 months to edge Henric Sturehed in a playoff.
Photo: Gallo Images