This event in Gillisonville, South Carolina joined the PGA Tour schedule in 2021, coming in as a late replacement for the cancelled RBC Canadian Open. That June 2021 event will likely live long in the memory of South African pro, Garrick Higo. Many professionals wait years for their first PGA Tour success – not Higo, who claimed the top spot in this event on only his second PGA Tour start. Coming home one-shot clear of a bunched field, Higo got his PGA career off to the best possible start and boosted his bank balance to the tune of $1.3m.
Located near Ridgeland, the Congaree Golf Club which provides the stage for this event is a long course at over 7,000m. The fairways are wide but flanked by tall pines and oaks, sand waste areas, and marshland, so still must be respected. The elevated greens make for welcoming targets but are notoriously fast and surrounded by hazards. Length off the tee, precision iron play, and scrambling ability are three of the most important attributes around here.
|2021||Congaree Golf Club||Garrick Higgo|
2021: Garrick Higgo
The 2021 Palmetto Championship was a brand new event on the PGA Tour and it yielded a brand new winner as Garrick Higgo emerged from the pack to win by the slenderest of margins. The South African was in hot form having already won twice on the European Tour just a couple of months earlier and he took his game to a new level becoming the first player since 1988 to win one of his first two starts on the PGA Tour.
The 22 year old spoke positively about the state of his game before his tournament began at Congaree but few took him seriously given his lack of experience at this level. It was he who looked like the chiselled professional when the pressure was turned on though. As he kept himself steady at the business end of the tournament, players with more experience faltered. They included Chesson Hadley who had a glorious chance to win but squandered a four-shot lead and ended up tying for second with Tyrrell Hatton, Doc Redman, Hudson Swafford, Bo Van Pelt and Jhonattan Vegas.
As disappointing as Hadley’s collapse was, Higgo deserves full credit for the way he maintained his belief having started his round six shots behind the leader. He looked a composed figure throughout what will surely be the first of many more victorious Sundays.