Late in the day at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree, a U.S. Open broke out a week early and on the wrong coast. In a meltdown the likes of which hasn’t been seen on the PGA Tour since well, an Open, Garrick Higgo emerged from the carnage a winner on Tour and the hottest player in the world heading into this week’s Open at Torrey Pines.
Higgo, a 22-year-old South African, shot a final-round, 3-under 68 to win the Palmetto Championship in only his second start on the PGA Tour. He finished 72 holes at 11-under 273, one shot better than six players, including Chesson Hadley, who coughed up the tournament with bogeys on his final three holes.
Higgo, a powerful left-hander who played collegiately at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, has won two of his last three non-major starts on the European Tour, setting a Tour 72-hole scoring record of 255 (25 under) while winning the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open at the end of April. He has three total wins on the Euro Tour since turning pro in 2019 – in just 26 events.
And his first PGA Tour victory came in only his second start; the other appearance came at the PGA Championship four weeks ago, where he finished T64. He entered last week ranked 54th in the Official World Golf Rankings and this victory will place him well within the top 50. He is now exempt on the PGA Tour through the 2022-23 season and is eligible for this season’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
Higgo did not lead the Palmetto Championship at any point until Hadley missed a par putt on the 72nd hole while Higgo was warming up on the range, preparing for a playoff that never came. He turned out to be the beneficiary of players on the leaderboard toppling like bowling pins, the most obvious of which was Hadley, who started Sunday’s final round with a four-shot lead over Harris English. Hadley, who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2014, when he was Rookie of the Year, saw his lead vaporize in the first three holes of the final round when he made two bogeys and English also made two bogeys.
Despite hitting only four greens in regulation in the final round, Hadley managed to hold onto the lead most of the day until his disastrous final stretch. But he was far from alone. English made four bogeys and a double-bogey in his last eight holes. Hadley finished with 4-over 75 and English shot 74.
Dustin Johnson, the world No. 1, was 4-under for the day and within one of Hadley’s lead after a birdie at the 13th but a sloppy triple-bogey 7 at the 16th canceled his chances. He finished three shots back of Higgo with a final-round 70.
Bo Van Pelt was briefly tied for the lead and lost his chances with bogeys on two of his final three holes. Jhonattan Vegas was within one of the lead until his bogey at the 16th. Both players finished in the tie for second at 10 under, one back of Higgo.
Higgo got to 11 under for the tournament with an eagle at the par-5 12th at Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, S.C., and a birdie at the long, difficult par-3 14th. Four final pars were enough for the clubhouse lead and the eventual victory.
“It’s amazing,” Higgo said afterward. “I just stayed patient all week. I’ve worked hard with my coach on my short game and I guess all that work paid off.”