South Africa’s top ranked Garrick Higgo overcame a strong challenge from Andre van Heerden to clinch victory in The Bobby Locke on Wednesday, thanks in no small part to a grand-stand finish in the final round at Parkview Golf Club.
Tied for the lead through 14 holes, the 17-year-old Boland junior rose to the occasion and produced a sensational birdie-birdie finish to close out a three shot victory with a final round 68.
“After the disastrous start on day one, I never imagined that I would get to 19 under, but if this game has taught me anything, it’s that you never give up at the first set-back,” Higgo said.
“I spent about five months this season abroad, competing in the United States and playing in the United Kingdom with the GolfRSA National Squad. My last victory was the Cape Province Open in February and my last was the Northern Amateur in March.
“I wanted to prove myself and I guess there was a little bit of revenge in my heart, because I lost by one shot last year after leading the tournament. This win definitely means the world to me and I just want to keep building from here.”
Over the course of 72 holes, Higgo demonstrated the mental fortitude and composure that took him to the top of the South African Golf Association’s Open Amateur Rankings.
Having pinned his drive at the opening hole in the first round, Higgo hit his approach at the par five to 15 feet, but four-putted for a bogey start, but a birdie at the second got him right back on course. He obliterated a second dropped shot at nine with a string of four birdies from 11 to sign for a 67.
A second round 68 saw him start the final day three off the pace from Van Heerden, who took pole position with rounds of 64 and 68. However, as the Mpumalanga amateur lost traction, Higgo raced into the lead but former number one Kyle McClatchie also had title aspirations.
He levelled the score with birdies at 12 and 13 and an eagle at the par-five 14th, but the scene changed dramatically as McClatchie finished with three successive bogeys. A birdie finish for a 66 shot Higgo to the top of the pile and he started the final round three shots clear of Van Heerden and McClatchie, who posted respective rounds of 72 and 69.
Higgo gave back a shot to the field with a bogey at the fourth, but birdied six to keep the chasing pack at bay over the first nine holes. Two more gains at 11 and 13 moved him to 17 under, but Van Heerden fired five birdies in a row from 10 to grab a share of the lead.
“The wind blew a gale in the morning, but it was a little less severe wind in the afternoon,” Higgo said.
“I managed to get through the first nine holes in level par and I just kept my head in the game. I didn’t let anything distract me on the back nine. I heard that Andre was firing, but I had no idea how close he got until after I won.
“I just played shot for shot to get the job done. Being able to keep the focus and stay in the moment is probably the biggest strength of my game and hopefully I can keep this form going to defend my title in the Central Gauteng Open this week.”
Van Heerden carded 68 to take sole second on 16-under 272. Western Province’s Deon Germishuys – who led the first round with a 63 – signed off with a 72 to take third on 10-under, while Ryan Dreyer shot 73 and McClatchie 76 to share fourth on eight-under-par 280.
Article By: Lali Stander