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Garrick Higgo in Dreamland After Maiden PGA Tour Victory

By: | Mon 14 Jun 2021 | Comments


GARRICK HIGGO is in dreamland. After two victories on the European Tour this season, he collected the most unlikely of wins at the Palmetto Championship as 54-leader Chesson Hadley’s game fell apart.

Higgo's only previous start in a PGA Tour event was at the PGA Championship last month, but he secured full membership with his one-shot win over Hadley, who bogeyed the final three holes to slip into a six-way share of second place. Hadley started the final round armed with a four-shot lead, although the pressure began to tell on the 33-year-old when he bogeyed two of the first three holes, although he steadied his nerves with a birdie at the fourth and managed to par his way to the turn.

His playing partner in the final pairing, Harris English, piled on the heat with three early birdies before he gave one back at the sixth, while Higgo looked too far back to challenge after he countered birdies at the third and fourth with a pair of dropped shots, and he remained at eight under heading to the back nine.

But the South African hit a great second to 10 feet at the long 12th and converted the chance for eagle, and he rolled in another great putt from just inside 25 feet at the 14th to get within two of the faltering leader.

Higgo appeared certain to drop at least one shot when he pulled his drive into trouble at the 17th and scuffed his second into the trees, but he produced an outstanding 80-yard pitch from a sandy waste area to 10 feet and rattled in the putt to escape with a par.

The 22-year-old closed with a cast-iron four at the last to claim the clubhouse lead on 11 under, just as Hadley was making things tough for himself over the last three holes, and bogeys at 16 and 17 left him needing to par the last to force extra holes.

Hadley's drive down 18 veered left but clung onto the fairway, but he blocked his second way right and enjoyed a fortunate bounce off the grandstand, although his ball remained in the run-off area.

Having hit only four greens in regulation throughout the final round, Hadley was unable to pull off another up-and-down when he needed it most, misjudging the pace and line with his third before not allowing nearly enough break with his par-saving putt from 10 feet.

That confirmed Higgo as the champion, the left-hander lifting his third piece of silverware this year after collecting two victories in three weeks on the Canary Islands in April.

Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika

JONATHAN CALDWELL birdied the last hole and then watched Adrian Otaegui three-putt from nowhere to hand the Northern Irishman his maiden European Tour title at the Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika.

Caldwell entered the final day at Vallda Golf and Country Club three shots off the lead but carded a closing 64 to get to 17 under and set the target. Spaniard Otaegui had a chance to win on the last but three putted or the only bogey of his 67 to finish a shot off the lead.

In a week where the European Tour broke new ground with a field of 78 men and 78 women playing over the same course for the same trophy, England's Alice Hewson carded a closing 69 to finish third at 15 under, two shots clear of Australian Scott Hend and England's James Morrison.

It has been a long road to the winner's circle for Caldwell, who first came through the Qualifying School in 2008 but since then had played just 47 events on the European Tour coming into this week. He claimed two wins on the EuroPro Tour in 2016 and 2017 and made his way back to the European Tour via the Qualifying School in 2019 after a decade away. But he will now have no worries about his playing privileges for the foreseeable future, and cut an emotional figure as he was interviewed after his victory.

“It’s been a dream of mine for an awful long time,” he said. “A lot of hard work goes into it. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but hopefully more to come. 

“In 2009 I played my first year, lost my card, played mini tours and Challenge Tour over the years, worked as well in a local golf store. It’s been a long road but finally I’m here.

"The golf club at home will probably be going bonkers so just put a tab on and crack on boys and enjoy. My parents have been with me the whole way so I look forward to talking to them."

On a groundbreaking week in golf, Caldwell added: "It's been a tremendous week, I think what they've done this week is fantastic and I hope we have more weeks like this. The golf course was fantastic and I played with some great girls this week.

"I got a fist pump from Annika [Sorenstam, one of the tournament hosts along with Henrik Stenson] when I came off 18 which is pretty incredible - probably the greatest ever ladies golfer so that was pretty special."

Otaegui two putted the par five fourth and then put a stunning tee shot to three feet at the fifth to hit the front but he soon had company. Caldwell had holed from 16 feet on the third and then made a pair of two putt birdies on the fourth and sixth before a 35 footer on the eighth had him in a share.

Otaegui made two putts from off the green at sixth to hit the front but Caldwell made the most of the par five 10th with two putts and then holed from 15 feet on the 11th.

The par fives were proving to be pivotal and Otaegui made his birdie at the 10th to get back into a tie but Caldwell drove the 14th and rolled home from 40 feet for an eagle and a two shot lead.

Caldwell dropped a shot on the 15th after being plugged but reclaimed his cushion as he got up and down on the par five 16th. He then missed a short putt of his own on the 17th and Otaegui joined him at the top as he drove to the side of the 14th and got up and down.

Otaegui briefly took the lead with another two-putt birdie on the 16th but ahead on the last, Caldwell played a remarkable second from some nasty stuff down the right to three feet and was left to wait at 17 under.

He must have feared the worst when Otaegui hit his approach inside 20 feet at the 18th but the 28-year-old Spaniard ran his birdie attempt four feet past and then missed coming back to hand Caldwell the title.

Hewson was clinging on the leaders after four birdies and four bogeys in her opening 12 holes but she holed from around 15 feet on the 13th and 14th and then hit the green in two on the 16th and claimed her birdie to storm up the leaderboard.

Hend and Morrison both carded rounds of 70 to finish a shot ahead of Dane Joachim B. Hansen and two clear of Australian Jason Scrivener - who had led by two at one point on Sunday but stumbled on the back nine in a round of 73 - home favourite Alexander Björk and Japan's Masahiro Kawamura.


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