SA's Garrick Higgo claims maiden title in Portugal
South Africa's Garrick Higgo secured a life-changing first European Tour victory at the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos thanks to a stunning bogey-free seven under par final round of 65.
The left-hander, whose final bogey of the week occurred on the tenth hole of his second round, finished on 19 under par, one stroke clear of Spain’s Pep Angles who finished second on 18 under par.
Higgo’s countryman George Coetzee continued his excellent form and followed his Portugal Masters victory with a tied for third place at Royal Óbidos on 15 under par, alongside England’s Andrew Wilson, with Sweden’s Jens Dantorp and Spain’s Carlos Pigem finishing tied fifth on 14 under.
The 21-year-old dropped just three shots during the tournament – a double bogey on his sixth hole of the week and that bogey on the tenth during his second round – and had played only a handful of third round holes when Saturday’s play was suspended due to darkness.
He returned to the course on Sunday morning and carded a six under par round of 66 to end round three just one shot off the lead, which was held by Portugal’s Vitor Lopes.
Lopes could not continue his low-scoring performance of the first three rounds and dropped off the pace during round four, but Higgo picked up where he left off.
Five front nine birdies, including a chip-in on the sixth hole, saw him make the turn in 31 before further gains on the 11th and the 18th saw him finish on 19 under par.
It was a nervous wait for the Stellenbosch native with Angles playing in the group behind, but when the Spaniard was unable to convert the 35-foot eagle putt he needed for a play-off, victory was secured for Higgo.
Higgo will now receive additional European Tour playing rights after winning in Portugal, an event which was dual-ranked with the European Challenge Tour, and after securing victory he admitted that the feeling had not yet sunk in.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a little bit easier over the last three holes but he [Pep Angles] made it a bit tough. That birdie on the last was really, really nice.
“I just really enjoyed it and I just made sure I had fun out there. It’s a funny feeling. I’m sure it’ll kick in tonight, but for now it’s just nice.
I could have done even better, golf’s always like that. It was nice. I don’t think I made a bogey in two days, so I was just really, really sharp. My short game was very good, I chipped in three times so every time I was out of position, I made it a ‘double-plus’.”
The joint-low round of the day was carded by English duo Matt Ford and Jonathan Thomson who both recorded eight under par totals of 64 to earn shares of 18th position and seventh place, respectively. It is Thomson’s highest European Tour finish since his tie for second place at Made in Denmark two years ago.
Jordan Wrisdale, from England, and Australia’s Maverick Antcliff complete the top ten by sharing ninth place on 12 under par.
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