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Inside story on how Aldrich Potgieter got to Zurich Classic of New Orleans

5 Min Read



Presidents Cup Captain Mike Weir working behind scenes

    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    Aldrich Potgieter got the call-up, and he has Mike Weir partly to thank.

    Potgieter, a Korn Ferry Tour rookie, will play in this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the two-man team event, alongside fellow South African Thriston Lawrence, a four-time DP World Tour winner. Their partnership is hardly random and is in fact an advertisement for friends in high places, strategy, and above all, good golf.

    Here’s how it happened.

    Potgieter, 19, became the Korn Ferry Tour’s youngest winner at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club in late January, then became the youngest to break 60 in a TOUR-sanctioned event with a second-round 59 at the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard in Bogota. The golf world took notice.

    Aldrich Potgieter becomes the youngest player to break 60 in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event

    Weir, who will captain the International Presidents Cup Team that will take on the U.S. at Royal Montreal this fall, was especially intrigued, and had an idea. What if Potgieter could start to demystify the PGA TOUR with a tee time at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans?

    Weir brought in the higher-ranked Lawrence, and the South African duo was born.

    “I haven’t met (Weir) yet, but after my win, he sent me a message saying congratulations, and then he asked me to play in the event,” Potgieter said at last week’s LECOM Suncoast Classic. “It’s pretty cool, him being Presidents Cup captain as well this year. It’s pretty cool to have someone like that reach out.”

    There will be no shortage of great teams at TPC New Orleans, including Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry; Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (the 2022 champs); and Sahith Theegala and Will Zalatoris, a trendy pick to win this year. Potgieter and Lawrence will have their work cut out for them, but this might not be the only time they play together.

    Could this be a team we see at the Presidents Cup, as well?

    That wouldn’t come totally out of left field. Last fall, Ludvig Åberg was chosen to represent the European Team at the Ryder Cup within four months of turning pro and before he’d even played in a major. The Swede went 2-2-0 in Rome, and followed with a win at The RSM Classic in November and a runner-up at the Masters two weeks ago. Åberg is 24, five years older than Potgieter, but the precedent was set. Earlier this spring, Weir even mentioned Potgieter when discussing candidates for the International Team.

    “You look at the way Ludvig Åberg emerged for the European Ryder Cup team, and you never know when a guy like that emerges,” Weir told PGATOUR.COM in February. “Look at this kid Aldrich Potgieter, who shot 59 (in Bogota) and is the youngest guy to win on the Korn Ferry Tour. Min Woo Lee had a strong surge at the end of last year. Ryan Fox is playing well. There are some new names that maybe people haven’t heard, but there’s some guys popping up for the Internationals. Our team looks strong.”

    That team could include Potgieter, who also won The Amateur Championship 2022 at age 17, becoming the event’s second-youngest winner. Korn Ferry Tour pros were asked last week about the best swings on the circuit, and Potgieter was a popular choice. The youngest to win a TOUR-sanctioned event since Ralph Guldahl at the TOUR’s 1931 Santa Monica Open, the South African possesses a useful blend of natural power and keen golf sense, which has allowed him to quickly acclimate to life in America.

    Potgieter has recently spent time in northeast Florida – he holds TPC Sawgrass practice privileges as a Korn Ferry Tour member – and also traveled to Arizona earlier this year to visit with fellow South African Tim Clark, who won THE PLAYERS Championship in 2010.

    Clark, who earned his TOUR card with a third-place finish on the 2000 Korn Ferry Tour season-long standings, looks back fondly at his time on the TOUR’s premier pathway circuit. And he shared that sentiment with Potgieter after the younger golfer faded to a lackluster T81 finish at PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry’s Final Stage last fall. (The top five and ties earned TOUR cards.)

    Potgieter was on the same wavelength. Rather than viewing the Q-School result as a setback, the teenager saw an opportunity.

    “I called him after that, feeling like he might be a little bit disappointed, but he’s got such a good attitude,” Clark said. “He understood, ‘Hey, maybe this is a good thing for me, just to get my feet wet, get some tournaments under my belt, get used to travel.’

    “Because obviously the talent’s there for him. He could play on TOUR right now. But I do believe this was a good thing for him in a way, and it gives him a big appreciation for what a lot of people go through to become a professional golfer.”

    (Editor’s note: Potgieter is featured on “One Shot Away,” the six-episode docuseries that follows the journey of six Korn Ferry Tour pros across the season-long race for 30 PGA TOUR cards. Episode 1, featuring a segment with Potgieter and Clark, will air Sunday, April 28 on CBS Sports, with a subsequent release on the Korn Ferry Tour’s YouTube channel.)

    More important than his Final Stage result was that Potgieter had earned medalist honors (by four) at Q-School’s Second Stage in Valdosta, Georgia, securing eight guaranteed Korn Ferry Tour starts in 2024. That allowed him to enter Q-School’s Final Stage with a more relaxed approach – he would be getting into tournaments this season no matter what.

    And in a sense, his legend grew at Final Stage, anyway. After playing a practice round with Potgieter at TPC Sawgrass, Wesley Bryan was struck by his blend of talent and maturity – just as Bryan’s brother George had been after playing with him at Second Stage.

    “George was hyping him up to be the greatest golfer he’s seen in his entire life,” Wesley Bryan said at Q-School’s Final Stage. “He’s got LeBron (James)-esque upside.”

    Bryan brothers talk about Aldrich Potgieter's game

    That’s a lofty name to throw out, but a month after Bryan drew this comparison, Potgieter made history as the youngest Korn Ferry Tour winner. Now he’ll have a chance to further impress in New Orleans – in front of fans, and even a certain Presidents Cup captain.

    As for this week’s walk-up song, an enduring Zurich Classic tradition? “I’ll leave that up to my partner,” Potgieter said with a laugh. He’s still a teenager, after all.

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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