News & Opinion

South African acts upon Gary Player’s advice

Garrick Higgo wins 2021 Gran Canaria Lopesan Open
South Africa’s Garrick Higgo approves of his play in winning the European Tour’s Gran Canaria Lopesan Open on Sunday in Spain’s Canary Islands.

Garrick Higgo, heeding his famous countryman’s caution about holding a 54-hole lead, pulls away at Gran Canaria Lopesan Open

South Africa’s Garrick Higgo took some overnight advice from legendary countryman Gary Player and converted it into a victory Sunday on the European Tour.

Higgo, the 54-hole leader at Gran Canaria Lopesan Open, shot a second consecutive 7-under 63 to complete a three-stroke victory at Meloneras Golf in Gran Canaria, Spain.

“I spoke to Gary last night, actually, and he just said there is no such thing as a lead and you should play like you're two behind,” said Higgo, recalling his call with the nine-time major champion. “That was nice from him. He's said it to me so many times, but I've never really had a lead, so I've never had to worry about that.”

Higgo, who will turn 22 on May 12, played two seasons of college golf at Nevada-Las Vegas before turning professional in 2019. He has won four tournaments on major professional tours in the past 22 months, including the 2020 Portugal Open and the Tour Championship on his native Sunshine Tour.

“It's unreal,” said the left-handed Higgo, a two-time winner on the European Tour in only 24 career starts. “Jeez, I can't put it into words; it feels amazing. It’s quite a relief finishing now. It wasn’t over until the last hole, really. I knew anything could happen, especially with the wind coming up. It was a bit stressful.

“I am just going to keep going forward. I am playing next week, the week after and see where my game goes. It feels good, I have worked really hard with my coach and everyone back at home, so it feels amazing.”

Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer, who lost in a playoff one week earlier at the Austrian Open, closed with 62 for a 22-under 258 total and second place. Denmark’s Jeff Winther played his final three holes in 4 under to shoot 64 and finish solo third at 21-under 259, two shots ahead of England’s Sam Horsfield (66), who placed solo fourth. (For scores, click here.)

Higgo started the day with a two-stroke lead and quickly built some momentum with a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-4 second hole, then added a chip-in eagle at the par-5 fourth hole. He holed four more birdies to complete a bogey-free round.

Higgo earned €230,500 (about $279,000). He is the third South African to win this year on the European Tour, joining compatriots Justin Harding (Magical Kenya Open) and Daniel Van Tonder (Kenya Savannah Classic).

The tournament was the first of three consecutive €1.5 million (about $1.815 million) events for the European Tour in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago in the North Atlantic off the northwest coast of Africa.

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