The South Africans are in the spotlight ahead of the US Open at Torrey Pines, as there was another decisive LPGA Tour victory in AFP Sport golf talking points this week:
– ‘Watch this place’ –
Left-hander Garrick Higgo became the youngest South African to win the PGA Tour since Gary Player in 1958 and he revealed after his victory this weekend that he has the legend in his corner.
Higgo’s victory over six shots back before the Palmetto Championship final round was the prolific 22-year-old’s fifth title in his last 27 starts around the world, adding to three wins on the European Tour and one on his Sunshine Tour at home.
“He (Gary) phoned me this morning, actually, and he told me he’s done it a few times before, the way he won six behind, seven behind,” Higgo said after won his second start on the PGA Tour.
“He just said don’t think too much about what other guys are doing, just do whatever you want and stay up there, and you never know what might happen.” “
Higgo’s payoff is his rise to the world’s top 50 for the first time, and Player was quick to tweet his approval.
# photo1 ″ Watching @garrick_higgo win his first PGA Tour tournament in just his second start has been one of the most enjoyable things I have witnessed in my career, ”Player said.
“He is without a doubt the most humble and well-educated young man you could wish to meet. Watch this space, great things to come! “
– DeChambeau’s rival –
Speaking of young South Africans, Wilco Nienaber will turn heads for his US Open debut starting Thursday, including that of defending champion Bryson DeChambeau.
That’s because the 21-year-old set distance records to compete with DeChambeau.
# photo2 At the Johannesburg Open last year he hit a European Tour record 439 yard tee shot and although he finished tied for 14th behind Higgo this weekend, Nienaber led the field with a gigantic average of 361 yards at the start.
So who could have the edge if Nienaber is teamed up with DeChambeau at Torrey Pines this week?
“It’ll be pretty similar,” said Nienaber, whose stiff 6-foot-2-inch (1.88-meter) 175-pound (80-kg) frame is a stark contrast to the bloated Bryson, who is slightly shorter at 6-foot-1. (1.85m) but tips the scale at about 240 lbs (109 kg).
“I don’t know what the difference will be between the two of us, but it will be very different, the way we get the numbers,” he added.
“But it will be cool to see. Bryson did a really cool thing. I admire him. It will be interesting. “
– ‘Everything is possible’ –
The milestone year in 2021 shows no signs of slowing down.
Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese to win a US Masters major in April.
Phil Mickelson became the oldest to lift one of the Big Four at the PGA United States Championship last month.
And last week, Yuka Saso’s triumph at the US Women’s Open made her the first player from the Philippines to win a major tournament.
Today Matilda Castren became the first Finnish player to win a title on the LPGA Tour.
“I’m the first to win from Finland, and I bet a lot of people didn’t think it was possible. I had my doubts myself, ”said Castren, 26, the LPGA Tour rookie, after winning the Mediheal Championship on Sunday.
“But I just want to send a message that anything is possible and right to achieve your goals. “
Never more true than in 2021, it seems.
– World rankings –
Leading men and women, week starting June 14, 2021:
1. Dustin Johnson (United States) 9.98
2. Justin Thomas (United States) 8.11
3. Jon Rahm (ESP) 8.06
4. Collin Morikawa (United States) 7.29
5. Bryson DeChambeau (United States) 6.86
6. Alex ScHotele (United States) 6.75
7. Patrick Cantlay (United States) 6.32
8. Patrick Reed (United States) 6.05 (+1)
9. Tyrrell Hatton (ANG) 5,98 (+1)
Brooks Koepka (United States) 5.88 (-2)
39. Garrick Higgo (RSA) 2.96 (+15)
1. Ko Jin-young (KOR) 9.42
2. Park in the bee (KOR) 8.61
3. Kim Sei-young (KOR) 7.66
4. Nelly Korda (United States) 7.40
5. Brooke Henderson (CAN) 6.20
6. Danielle Kang (United States) 5.88
7. Lexi Thompson (United States) 5.72
8. Yuka Saso (PHI) 5,49 (+1)
9. Kim Hyo-joo (KOR) 5.44 (-1)
10. Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 5.42
71. Mathilde Castren (FIN) 1.84 (+87)
© 2021 AFP