SA golfers on song in Europe and US
This was also a week in which a South African broke a US Open record previously held by Jack Nicklaus
SA professional golf celebrated an outstanding weekend, with the country’s golfers flying the flag across the world of golf and across generations.
In Portugal, young star Garrick Higgo, a product of the GolfRSA National Squad, achieved his maiden victory on the European Tour in the Open de Portugal and in only his seventh start on the Tour.
Higgo’s one-stroke victory made for back-to-back wins on the European Tour by South Africans after George Coetzee’s triumph in the Portugal Masters the week before. And Coetzee continued his good form with a finish of third in this event.
Higgo’s win comes after an incredible start to his professional career. Only turning professional in 2019, Higgo broke through on the Sunshine Tour with victory in the 2019 Sun City Challenge and then claimed the season-ending Tour Championship in February 2020 to be crowned the Tour’s Rookie of the Year.
“It feels awesome,” Higgo said after his triumph in Portugal. “I just really enjoyed it and I just made sure I had fun out there. It feels pretty surreal, to be honest. I’m sure it’s going to kick in tonight.”
In the US, Louis Oosthuizen finished third in the US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, eight shots behind winner Bryson DeChambeau. The US Open is now the one Major where Oosthuizen has had the most top-10 finishes, of four.
And this was also a week in which the South African broke a US Open record previously held by Jack Nicklaus. Oosthuizen’s first round of 67 was his eighth career 67 or lower in a US Open, one more than the record held by Nicklaus.
“Finishing third in a Major is always great,” Oosthuizen told the media. “I mean, it was going to be tough. This golf course definitely showed its teeth with the firmness of the greens and the fairways and the wind, and it was just tough.”
SA’s veteran campaigners were not about to be outdone either this past weekend. On the PGA Tour Champions, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen both finished within the top five in the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach.
Els finished on 11-under-par and just one shot from the play-off on 12-under between Jim Furyk and Jerry Kelly, which Furyk won. Goosen took a share of fourth place on nine-under.
On the LPGA Tour, Ashleigh Buhai lost a play-off for the Cambia Portland Classic as she chased a first LPGA Tour title in Main. Buhai closed with an impressive final round of seven-under-par to tie with England’s Georgia Hall on 12-under-par.
After sharing the first play-off hole in pars, Hall took the title with a second par to Buhai’s bogey.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing with my swing. I felt very confident this week,” Buhai said after her second career runner-up finish on the LPGA Tour.
“I’m proud of myself. Even in the play-off I executed it the way I wanted to.”
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