It was a stunning opening nine of five-under-par 31 on Sunday that saw Garrick Higgo race to his maiden European Tour victory at the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos as he finished the tournament at 19-under-par, one shot clear.
The left-handed 2019-20 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year, whose final bogey of the week occurred on the 10th hole of his second round, birdied the par-five 18th to defeat Spain’s Pep Angles who finished second on 18-under.
The 21-year-old Higgo dropped just three shots during the tournament – a double bogey on his sixth hole of the week and that bogey on the 10th during his second round – and had played only a handful of third-round holes when Saturday’s play was suspended due to darkness.
He returned to the course on Sunday morning and carded a six-under-par round of 66 to end round three just one shot off the lead, which was held by Portugal’s Vitor Lopes.
Lopes could not continue his low-scoring performance of the first three rounds and dropped off the pace during round four, but Higgo picked up where he left off.
Five front nine birdies, including a chip-in on the sixth hole, saw him make the turn in 31 before further gains on the 11th and the 18th saw him finish on 19-under-par.
Higgo, whose victory comes in just his seventh European Tour start, admitted that the feeling had not yet sunk in following his win.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a little bit easier over the last three holes but he [Pep Angles] made it a bit tough. That birdie on the last was really, really nice.
“I just really enjoyed it and I just made sure I had fun out there.
“It’s awesome. It feels pretty surreal to be honest. I’m sure it’s going to kick in tonight but my family and everyone is excited, I’m excited, it’s an awesome feeling.”
Higgo now adds a European Tour title to two victories on the Sunshine Tour, and credited a change with his putting as the key to his victory in Portugal.
“I could have done even better, golf’s always like that. It was nice. I don’t think I made a bogey in two days, so I was just really, really sharp. My short game was very good, I chipped in three times so every time I was out of position, I made it a ‘double-plus’.
“The last couple of weeks, I was struggling with my putting. I think I was over-reading everything and this week, I just went with my first read. I think you can quickly see things that aren’t there, so that was kind of the key this week.”
Last year’s Sunshine Tour rookie of the year will now receive additional European Tour playing rights after winning in Portugal, an event which was dual-ranked with the European Challenge Tour.
“It does give me a lot of confidence. It was a bit of a big hit with Covid meaning there isn’t any promotion from the Challenge Tour this year, so obviously one of the dual-ranked events is ideal to win because you can get straight on to the European Tour. It’s an awesome feeling to get it done.”
Behind Higgo, George Coetzee continued his excellent form and followed his Portugal Masters victory with a share of third place at Royal Óbidos on 15-under.
With reporting from The European Tour