12 July 2016 – As the excitement builds for South Africa’s debut at the Olympics and the start of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon is eagerly anticipated, Garrick Higgo from Boland made a little history of his own when he punched his ticket to the US Amateur Championship on Monday as ranked Woo-Ju Son and Christo Lamprecht rub shoulders with the cream of junior golf in the biennial Junior Championship in Scotland.
Higgo beat out 54 amateurs attempting to advance in the USGA Amateur Qualifier at Peach Tree Golf and Country Club to take the medallist honours on seven-under-par 133.
The 17-year-old De Zalze golfer reeled in two eagles on his way to an opening five under 65 and secured his berth at Oakland Hills Country Club with a final round 68. The 116th championship will take place from August 15-21 on the South course that has hosted 16 Major Championships.
Higgo rose to prominence when he staved off a stellar international challenge to lift the Curro SA International Junior Boys title in March and underlined his growing stature when he won the ProShop Northern Amateur match play the same month and reached the final of the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Match Play Championship in April.
Meanwhile South African’s top ranked women’s junior Son and recent Dimension Data Junior Open champion Lamprecht began their campaign at the Junior Open on Monday.
The curtain-raiser for The Open came under the Royal and Ancient (R&A) umbrella in 2000 and the R&A’s 152 affiliates are invited to enter their leading boy and girl golfers aged 16 and under.
South African pair joined a field of 150 competitors from a record 80 countries in Scotland, who were greeted on arrival by the 2015 and 2011 Champion Golfers of the Year, Zach Johnson from the United States and 2016 Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke from Northern Ireland, who also presented the competitors with their players’ badges ahead of this week’s championship.
Founded in 1994, the Junior Open is traditionally played on a nearby course shortly before The Open and this year’s event is taking place at Kilmarnock, less than three miles from Royal Troon.
Son opened her campaign with a four over 77 to join eight players in joint 16th and Lamprecht’s 82 handed him a seat in the 12-man bus in 46th place at nine over.
Competitors play two rounds of stroke play, after which the leading 80 players and ties progress to the third and final round.
Some of the world’s best golfers have featured in the Junior Open over the years, including 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, 2015 US Open and Masters Champion Jordan Spieth, seven-time European Ryder Cup player Sergio Garcia and 2010 US Women’s Open Champion Paula Creamer.