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Sinclair holds off Higgo to take SA Boys U19 title
- Updated: April 3, 2016
Gauteng North junior Ross Sinclair staved off a brave challenge by 16-year-old Garrick Higgo from Boland to defend his Nomads SA Boys U-19 Championship title at Bloemfontein Golf Club on Saturday.
Sinclair said his success was largely down to a trio of birdies around the turn during the second trip around the championship layout that helped him regain the momentum in the 36-hole final.
The 18-year-old from Centurion Golf Club was 4-up through 13 holes, but his lead was down to just one after he dropped shots at 15 and 16 and double bogeyed 17.
Further bogeys at the 20th and 22nd holes opened the door for Higgo, who hit a solid drive down the par five fifth (23rd hole) and a six-iron to five feet for a great a great birdie from four feet surged to a 2-up lead with a superb eagle three at the 23rd hole.
‘After I birdied 13, I suddenly felt like I didn’t have the energy to swing the club,’ Sinclair explained.
‘I lost focus, didn’t know what to do with the wind and I rushed through my routine. I made a lot of silly mistakes and Garrick just kept firing. I knew I had to get it together to stay alive in the match.’
Showing the mental fortitude and grit that carried him to the number one spot in the Junior Rankings last year, Sinclair did just that.
He hit his tee shot at the par-three eighth (26th hole) to 30 feet and holed the birdie putt and boxed a left-to-right slider for birdie at the ninth to claw his way back into the match.
‘I made a huge putt at 10 to go 1-up,’ he said. ‘It was around 30 meters to the pin and holing that putt gave me a real boost down the back stretch.’
But Higgo wasn’t going away.
‘Garrick has incredible fighting spirit for someone so young’ Sinclair said. ‘He matched me par for par at the next three holes and made a great birdie at the par five (14/32nd hole) to go 1-up. I kept cool and just tried to par my way home.’
Sinclair and Higgo both pushed their tee shots right at the 35th hole.
The defending champion managed to up-and-down to save par after his second shot found the water, but Higgo short-sided himself. The resulting bogey left Sinclair 1-up with one to play.
Both players were on the green in two at the closing hole. Sinclair lagged his eagle attempt to a couple of inches, and Higgo conceded the match after his effort stopped three feet from the cup.
‘I can see why Garrick has done so well in the last few weeks,’ said Sinclair. ‘It was a great contest and his never-say-die attitude kept me on my toes, especially after the first 18 holes.
‘I was a little disappointed to lose the Stroke Play Championship by a shot, but it was a fair outcome because I really fell out of the bus in the third round. I was five over after 11 holes and had to fight my way back into contention, while Deon (Germishuys) was super consistent.
‘It’s really great to defend the title. I’ve played very little golf due to school workload. I’ve mainly worked with Graeme (Francis – coach), so it’s great to get this win under the belt before I head to the United States in May for US Open regional qualifier.’
Picture of Sinclair and Higgo courtesy of SAGA.