Connor Syme finishes joint-fifth as Garrick Higgo wins Gran Canaria Open

Connor Syme recorded his tenth top-10 finish in just 67 starts on the European Tour despite running up a quadruple-bogey 8 as he tried to catch playing partner and eventual winner Garrick Higgo in the closing round of the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open.

Connor Syme hits a wayward shot during the final round of the Gran Canaria Open at Meloneras Golf Club. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.
Connor Syme hits a wayward shot during the final round of the Gran Canaria Open at Meloneras Golf Club. Picture: Warren Little/Getty Images.

The 25-year-old Scot, who had stormed into contention for a maiden win on the circuit on the back of scores of 61 and 62 at Meloneras Golf, still had an outside chance after starting for home with three straight birdies to sit within three shots of South African Higgo.

However, after missing a good chance to make that four in a row at the par-5 13th, Syme pulled his tee shot out of bounds at the 14th, leading to four shots being dropped and, from third on his own, he slipped to joint-sixth.

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Having played so well for two-and-a-half days, it was a real hammer blow for the Drumoig-based player, but, to his credit, he bounced back with two birdies to finish, signing off with a 68 to tie for fifth on 18-under-par.

It was Syme’s second top-five finish in three starts, having been third in the Magical Kenya Open last month, and that door is going to open eventually if he keeps knocking at it.

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Despite being just 21, Higgo has now tasted victory twice on the European circuit and, on the evidence of this impressive performance, the left-hander looks as though he is South Africa’s next major winner in the making.

Having made his breakthrough in the Open de Portugal last September, Higgo closed with a second successive 63 - the latter was a bogey-free effort - for a 25-under 255 total, winning by three shots from Germany’s Max Keiffer as he ended up as a bridesmaid for the second Sunday in a row.

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“It’s unreal,” said Higgo, speaking to Sky Sports Golf, of becoming the quickest South African to land two regular tour title triumphs, having achieved the feat in just 24 starts.

The win is set to lift the Johannesburg man from 110th in the world rankings to around 65th, joining fellow lefties Bob MacIntyre, Brian Harman and Bubba Watson in the top 70.

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“My game feels good and the aim is to keep going forward,” added Higgo, who had followed a birdie at the second with an eagle-3 at the fourth before rolling in a 30-footer at the ninth to turn in 30.

Helped by an eagle-birdie start to the back nine, Keifer moved within two shots of the leader at one point, but, a week after losing to American John Catlin in an Austrian Open play-off, he came up just short once again.

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Calum Hill (67) and Richie Ramsay (68) finished joint-29th on 13-under, one ahead of Scott Jamieson (68).

Elsewhere, Craig Howie started the new Challenge Tour campaign with a tie for fifth behind home player Brandon Stone in the Limpopo Championship in South Africa.

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Howie closed with a three-under 69 for six-under total at Euphoria GC in Modimolle, where 2018 Scottish Open champion Stone birdied the first extra hole to win a four-man play-off.

“Every victory is special and to win at home is obviously a little bit more,” said Stone. “I haven’t won in a few years, so to get that monkey off my back now is fantastic.”

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