Higgs' walk-off albatross sets up title push
September 11, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
In-depth look at Harry Higgs' albatross on No. 18 at Safeway Open
NAPA, Calif. – Harry Higgs body slammed his 4-iron into the Silverado Resort and Spa North Course fairway and jumped in the air in what one could kindly call a chaotic celebration. The 28-year-old character then raised his arms outstretched, signaling to a non-existent crowd to show him love, before accepting elbow bumps from those in his group.
Welcome to an albatross, Higgs style.
Higgs had just made an incredible two from 230 yards on the par-5 ninth hole, his final hole of the second round at the Safeway Open, to card a 10-under 62 and move to just two shots off the clubhouse lead held by Sam Burns.
With the Safeway Open another being played without on-site spectators thanks to COVID-19 protocols it was a strange moment for Higgs, who is without doubt one of the bigger personalities and characters on the PGA TOUR.
“I don't think anybody really would have seen it anyway. No one really goes and watches that hole, they're all behind one drinking wine and champagne like my family was last year,” Higgs said. “If that was on 18, that would have been obviously sick and then Lord knows what the reaction's like when there's people around … I tend to do some crazy stuff if people start chanting my name.”
In fact, rather than take it up a few more notches Higgs revealed he suddenly had a serious concern on his mind as he continued walking towards the green to retrieve his ball. How would he get his nap in now.
Higgs, who finished 55th in the FedExCup as a rookie last season, was bouncing off the walls after the sensational finish to a bogey-free round. Just moments before the shot he’d been telling his brother, who acts as his caddie, that he couldn’t wait to finish and get to bed.
“I hope that I can calm down in an hour so I can take a nap. I was looking forward to a nap all day long and I might be too jacked up now to actually fall asleep,” Higgs laughed.
“What a wonderful way to end the day. I couldn't see it disappear …but I finally hit one like on the button solid. Drew a little bit, obviously landed soft, rolled right in the hole. The volunteer off the left just started screaming and then he said, "It's in the hole, it's in the hole!" and then I had a little panic freak out, jump for joy and then I threw my club. I'm sure it looked funny and ridiculous. I'm sure it could probably be a "not top‑10 play" just based on the poor reaction that I gave it.”
That volunteer was George Kennedy who couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. Of the three stationed around the ninth green only Kennedy saw it. Another was getting lunch at the time and the last had his head down entering data into the ShotLink tablet.
“I’m still on a high from it. The ball went pop, bop and clunk. It was a once in a lifetime type deal that you see,” Kennedy said. “It's really weird out here without the fans because they add so much energy and we have to be the energy of a couple thousand people.”
Another volunteer, Rufus Arther, was the beneficiary of the ball itself. Arther had acted as walking scorer for the round and was stunned when Higgs signed it and handed it over to him.
“It was incredible. This is going to go in my trophy case and it's going to be a special memory from not just this tournament but all my volunteering experience because you just don't see something like this every day,” Arther, who is in his seventh year as a walking scorer at the Safeway Open, said.A closer look at the ball Harry Higgs gave his group's walking scorer, Rufus Arther, after his albatross. (Mike Wolfe/PGA TOUR)
“I'm definitely a Harry Higgs fan now. He's such a likable guy and it couldn't happen to a better person. I'm hoping he continues to do well as it was such a pleasure sharing this experience with him.”
Higgs could have kept the ball as a keepsake but was, as always, up front and honest as to why he didn’t.
“I would lose it, and I don't have a cabinet. I thought about just tossing it in the bag but Rufus was with us today, I just signed it, "Thanks for going with us, 2 on No. 9" a couple exclamation points, signed it and handed it to him,” Higgs added. “I figure that was better than me keeping it and losing it.”
Prior to the albatross Higgs had seven birdies, six of those came on the back side of the course, his front nine on Friday. Through two rounds he is 8 under on the back side and 5 under on the front. Three of those gained shots on the front side came from the one incredible shot.
With a career best finish of runner-up at last season’s Bermuda Championship, where he held the 54-hole lead only to be run down by Brendon Todd, Higgs is excited for the chance to go one better.
“I've not played that front nine very well. I've got the back nine down, played the front nine fine, just haven't made enough birdies, so I figured I'd make up for it holing my second on the last,” he grinned.
‘”It gives me a nice little boost going into the weekend. I've got to keep doing it. It's not like 13 under is going to win. Maybe sprinkle in another albatross on nine or whatever other hole. Those help, for sure.”