CROMWELL, Conn. – Garrick Higgo has become one of golf's brightest young stars after winning the Palmetto Championship two weeks ago and that may be thanks to a prestigious mentor with a special connection.
That mentor is nine-time major winner and fellow South African Gary Player. Higgo, 22, grew up in Plettenberg Bay, where Player had a vacation home. When Player would visit around the holidays, the two would meet up and play nine holes. But a common hardship beyond golf bonded the two closer.
"We went through a similar thing," Higgo said Wednesday at the Travelers Championship. "[Player's] mom died when he was 9 or the age I was when my dad passed away, so we kind of have that connection. Only thing I can say is, it's real and it's amazing how it's worked out."
"But we had that connection before all the good things happened, and even if good things didn't happen, we still would have had that connection," Higgo added.
Although Higgo started playing with Player at 9 years old, he said it wasn't until he was 11 or 12 that he fully understood the significance of who Player is.
"When you kind of watch golf more and watch the majors and every time on screen they show who has won what and you see [Player's] name always popping up," Higgo said.
The two remain in touch and Player will continue to mentor Higgo as he makes himself a household name in the golf world. In addition to his PGA Tour victory, HIggo has won three times on the European Tour in the last year.
"He calls me a lot, we chat," Higgo said. "He's helped me with my game. He's been a big part of why I've kind of won a lot and the mental aspect of the game."
There's a good chance the two will remain in frequent contact in the upcoming weeks as Higgo will head to Tokyo to represent their native homeland in the Olympics. Out of the many accolades, Player, 85, achieved throughout his career, an Olympic medal, because the sport wasn't reintroduced until 2016, isn't one of them.