An overjoyed Gary Player said that he has never been as excited as he was watching Garrick Higgo win his first PGA Tour title at the Palmetto Championship in South Carolina on Sunday, and has declared the 22-year-old Sunshine Tour star as “destined for greatness”.
“I don’t think I’ve ever in my lifetime been more excited about anybody winning a golf tournament. I had tears in my eyes,” Player said in a phone call to Higgo shortly after his one-shot victory at Congaree Golf Club, which was his first win in only his second PGA Tour start. He is the first player to achieve this since 1988.
“I don’t think I’ve ever in my lifetime been more excited about anybody winning a golf tournament.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 14, 2021
Higgo is also the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since Sungjae Im at the 2020 Honda Classic (21 years, 11 months). And his victory from six strokes behind at the start of the final round is the largest 54-hole deficit overcome by a winner since Bubba Watson made up six strokes to win the 2018 Travelers Championship.
Higgo also joins esteemed company as the second left-handed player to win on the PGA Tour this season, following Phil Mickelson’s triumph in the PGA Championship.
“You are beginning to believe it now. I think you’ve got that into your brain now that you believe you can be great. You are destined for greatness,” Player told Higgo.
It was an apt phone call to receive from the man who designed the golf course where Higgo claimed his first professional victory on the Sunshine Tour when he won the 2019 Sun City Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club.
It’s been a meteoric rise since then for the former member of the GolfRSA National Squad. He followed that up with a second victory in the Sunshine Tour’s Tour Championship in February 2020, and in September that year he won his first title on the European Tour in the Open de Portugal.
Seeing @garrick_higgo win his first PGA Tour event in only his second start has been one of the most enjoyable things for me to witness in my career. He is without a doubt the most humble, well mannered young man that you could wish to meet. Watch this space, big things to come! pic.twitter.com/US5Qho6bL3
— GARY PLAYER (@garyplayer) June 13, 2021
Then in the space of three months this year, Higgo has won twice on the European Tour and now on the PGA Tour.
It’s opened up a world of opportunities for the South African.
Higgo is now immediately eligible for PGA Tour membership through to the 2022-23 season, and the 2021 FedExCup Playoffs.
Higgo has also climbed to 39th on the Official World Golf Ranking, making him the country’s second best ranked golfer after Louis Oosthuizen. With Christiaan Bezuidenhout, South Africa now has three golfers ranked within the top 50 in the world.
Higgo’s fellow South African professionals were quick to congratulate him on his triumph on social media.
“Congrats @garrick_higgo. What a way to start your PGA Tour career!!” Tweeted Ernie Els.
Congrats @garrick_higgo what a way to start your PGA tour career!!
— Ernie Els (@TheBig_Easy) June 13, 2021
“Proud to see another South African on the @PGATOUR. Congrats on your win @garrick_higgo! Here’s to many more,” added Louis Oosthuizen.
“Well done @garrick_higgo. World class!” said Charl Schwartzel.
“So stoked for @garrick_higgo!! Unreal!! Lekker ou bul! @PGATOUR,” said Erik van Rooyen.
— Erik van Rooyen (@FredVR_) June 13, 2021
“Big congrats to @garrick_higgo on his 1st PGA Tour win. Well done!” said Branden Grace.