Higgo hits big time in USA

As the excitement builds for South Africa’s debut at the Olympics and the start of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon is eagerly anticipated, Garrick Higgo from Boland made a little history of his own when he punched his ticket to the US Amateur Championship on Monday.

Higgo beat out 54 amateurs attempting to advance in the USGA Amateur Qualifier at Peach Tree Golf and Country Club to take the medallist honours on seven-under-par 133.

The 17-year-old De Zalze golfer reeled in two eagles on his way to an opening five under 65 and secured his berth at Oakland Hills Country Club with a final round 68.

The Paul Roos scholar was the youngest entrant for the Peach Tree qualifier, where most of the competitors in the field were college students.

Higgo hit his tee shot into the rough at the par four five, and knocked in a seven-iron from 160 metres on the green and the ball dropped in the hole for his first eagle.

For his second at the par five 18th, he had to push a three-wood through a very narrow gap between the trees, having missed the fairway. “My caddie and I couldn’t find the ball at first,” Higgo said. “We thought it went in the bunker, but it wasn’t there and then we found it on the green, about a foot from the pin and I boxed the putt for the eagle.

“The course was in great nick and the conditions were great in the first round, but it was really hot over the last 18 holes. The temperature soared from a mild to mid-40s. The course played a lot more difficult in the afternoon because the greens hardened up.

“I am over the moon with this result and the chance to compete in the biggest amateur tournament in the world. I’m sure the experience is going to be a huge learning curve for me.”

The 116th championship will take place from August 15-21 on the South course that has hosted 16 Major Championships.

Higgo rose to prominence when he staved off a stellar international challenge to lift the Curro SA International Junior Boys title in March and underlined his growing stature when he won the ProShop Northern Amateur match play the same month and reached the final of the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Match Play Championship in April.

In June, he competed in the RB German Junior on the Global Junior Golf Tour where he finished eighth overall and sixth in the Under-18 age group.

The Stellenbosch golfer will be teeing it up in the US Junior Amateur courtesy of his world amateur golf ranking.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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