PGA Tour

SA star Garrick Higgo to be 'realistic' on US Open debut, says coach

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South African golfer Garrick Higgo (AFP/Getty)
South African golfer Garrick Higgo (AFP/Getty)
Mike Lawrie /Getty Images via AFP
  • Garrick Higgo's coach Cliff Barnard says that the 22-year-old will be looking to make the cut at this week's US Open.
  • Higgo will be making his US Open debut at Torrey Pines and comes off a PGA Tour victory last week.
  • Barnard hopes to keep Higgo's mental fatigue in check as he continues his busy schedule.

It's been a whirlwind few days for South African golfer Garrick Higgo.

After capturing his maiden PGA Tour title, the Stellenbosch golfer had only two days to prepare for his biggest test yet - this week's US Open.

Higgo is one of the nine South Africans in the field at Torrey Pines, as he competes in his second consecutive major of the year.

READ | The stunning rise of Garrick Higgo: 'At 13, I knew this little guy was special' 

Since Monday, Higgo has been in constant communication with his coach Cliff Barnard, currently the head professional at Plettenberg Bay Country Club.

"We'll be discussing about what happened over the past weekend and we'll get into what's coming this week," Barnard told Sport24 on Monday.

"It's going to be an interesting week for him, he is going into Torrey Pines and it's a completely new course. He only has two days to prep in one of his biggest events ever."

In his major debut at last month's PGA Championship, Higgo made the cut and finished T64 while scoring eight birdies in his final round of 69 at Kiawah Island.

Barnard stated that Higgo's strategy would be realistic and straightforward, with the 22-year-old's main objective set to make the weekend.

"It's going to be interesting how he copes because we've got to be realistic. He's just come off this win, he has arrived a lot later than some of the bigger names that are there and working on their game strategies," said Barnard.

"Our first goal is to make the cut and wherever he stands over the weekend, we'll just take it from there."

Higgo has had a busy summer on the European Tour, where he claimed two titles in three weeks in Spain.

Following his win at the Palmetto Championship, Higgo earned a two-year exemption to the PGA Tour.

With all eyes on Higgo this week, Barnard isn't worried about the pressure of competing but more about his mental fatigue.

"He loves challenges ... he is very driven. He thrives off the crowds, so that's not the issue," said Barnard.

"It has a lot to do with mental fatigue that sets in. You're going from this hype to suddenly switch off again and then restart the battery to prepare for one of the biggest majors. It's that ability to do that and we'll see where it goes.

"It's an interesting one for us, whatever happens, we'll take the positives and work on that. We'll look to identify where the weaknesses are, but we never try and change our strengths. We know what his strengths are."

Higgo will tee off on Thursday alongside Joaquin Niemann of Chile and American amateur Cole Hammer at 22:03 SA time.

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