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Young SA golfers Higgo and Nienaber dazzle

by | May 10, 2021

GARRICK Higgo couldn’t have been any more chirpier in the Canary Islands, while fellow young professional Wilco Nienaber couldn’t hold back the tears at Fancourt.

As South African golfers continued their remarkable three-week run on the European Tour and Challenge Tour, Higgo – who turns 22 on Wednesday – won the Canary Islands Championship on Sunday in Tenerife by six shots with a birdie blitz of note, closing with a 64 for a 72-hole aggregate of 27-under 257. This comes just two Sundays after he captured the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open on a fantastic return of 25-under-par 255.

His low scoring – 52-under for the two European Tour events – has been absolutely extraordinary. Taking his 18-hole returns in the two victories into consideration, we get this: 65-64-63-63-66-63-64-64!

Birdies and eagles in profusion in the Canary Islands was what it has been all about for this super talented lefthander who has burst onto the world scene like no other young South African professional with the exception perhaps of Ernie Els. Just for good measure, Garrick’s closing 64 on Sunday included a hole-in-one at the par-3 seventh hole.

At the beginning of last year, Higgo was an unknown rookie in professional golf. Now he’s a star on the world stage. His earnings for three weeks in the Canary Islands – in between the two wins he tied for eighth on 16-under in the Tenerife Open won by compatriot Dean Burmester (on 25-under) – equates to about 500,000 euros, or a hefty R8,5-million. Talk about making quick money.

At Fancourt, meanwhile, South Africa’s big-hitting Nienaber outgunned Sweden’s Henric Sturehed in a sudden-death play-off to win the Dimension-Data Pro-Am, which is part of the European Challenge Tour. Nienaber, who only turned 21 last month, opened with a 69 on the Montagu course, then went 64-71 on Outenuiqua, before closing with a superb 65 on demanding Montagu for a 269 aggregate. The Swede also posted 269 but Wilco – he of the 400-yard-plus drives – sealed victory at the third extra hole of sudden-death for his debut win both at Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour level. He bags the equivalent of
R930 000 for the victory and – even more valuable – earns himself a coveted European Tour card. And thrown into the mix will be a start in the World Golf Championship-FedEx St Jude Classic in August in America. He hits the ball pretty much as far as Bryson DeChambeau. And, let’s be honest, our boy’s got a better looking swing. Dale Hayes, commentating at Fancourt, reckons Nienaber is so long off the tee and so talented that he would not be surprised if he one day wins a Major. And the men behind the microphones in the Canary Islands are predicting Higgo can do the same.

South Africans have now won the last three European Tour events – Higgo, Burmester and Higgo, and the last three Challenge Tour events – Brandon Stone, JC Ritchie and Nienaber who felt so emotional after sealing victory that he couldn’t hold back the tears.

Written by Randpark member Grant Winter.


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