Over the years, Springfield gained a fan in Kansas City’s Harry Higgs. And not just on the golf course but also thanks to the Queen City’s menu of restaurants.
It holds an even more special place in his heart now.
Higgs became the 30th champion of the PGA Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, finishing Sunday with a 5-under-par 72 for a four-day total of 266 – or 22 strokes under par – at Highland Springs Country Club. That was two strokes better than runners-up Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Svoboda.
The secret to Higgs’ success? The home cooking, apparently.
“It was close to home – Midwest people are great. And it was so cool to have crowds. I didn’t figure on No. 1 that we’d have that many people watching,” said Higgs, who had played PCCC Monday qualifiers at Rivercut Golf Course and several Payne Stewart Invitationals, AJGA events in the area. “It’s fun to be playing in front of people and play in the Midwest. And it’s a super-easy drive back to Kansas City.”
Higgs, a 2010 graduate of Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Kan., had surged into a first-place tie on Saturday. He then was in a three-way tie Sunday with eight holes to go and a two-way tie (with Grant Hirschman) after No. 11.
A separator became the par 5 No. 14, a quiet spot far from the No. 18 skyboxes. Tee shots there typically land, at best, 40 yards (on a downward slope) in front of cart path and with a rocky creek to the left. The fairway then cuts slightly left, with an incline.
Higgs’ third shot landed on the green, and he ultimately parred the hole.
On the same hole, Hirschman – the co-leader entering Sunday – saw his approach travel beyond the flag stick and into the grassy rough. When Hirschman tried to chip – he was about 20 yards from the cup – his chip shot looped only about two feet ahead, still in the grass. He had to settle for a double bogey and ultimately finished in a fourth-place tie.
From there, Higgs parred out through 18, where he eventually ran over to his mother and gave her a shout-out before giving her an emotional hug. He finished with six birdies, including the first three holes, and had only one bogey (on No. 4).
“On 14, when Grant made double, I figured I was at least two or three up. And fortunately on those last few holes, I would up getting some good numbers,” Higgs said.
Wheatcroft birdied six holes, but had two bogeys, including on the par 4 No. 5. Svoboda had had three birdies on the front nine and an eagle on No. 3.
Higgs, who played collegiately at Southern Methodist University, received a $126,000 check for his winnings. That was part of a $700,000 purse. He had 29 birdies in four days.
With it, Higgs ensured his PGA Tour card for next season. That comes a year after he earned his Korn Ferry Tour card for winning on the Latin American tour.
“I kind of had my (PGA Tour) card locked up anyway (coming down the No. 18 fairway),” Higgs said. “But just to know you won at this level, you can take that to the next level.”
Higgs began his Sunday in the final pairing one stroke behind 54-hole leader Hirschman. Higgs got off to a hot start that featured birdies on his first three holes. After a bogey on the par-3 fourth, he fell back to 19-under for the week.
Hirschman added a birdie on the par-4 seventh to match Higgs at 19-under. Both players recorded birdies on the par-5 eighth to reach 20-under and went to their final nine holes tied for the lead.
“It was very good to settle in,” Higgs said of his quick start. “I hit a really good pitch from the back of the green on No. 1. I hit a good wedge on No. 2, and it was kind of a deep breath after that. I tried to continue to do what I thought of last night and continue to stick with the game plan.”
Higgs and Hirschman continued their strong play as the pair posted matching birdies on the par-5 11th. On the next hole, Higgs carded his sixth birdie of the day to pull one ahead of Hirschman. On the par-4 14th, Hirschman recorded his second double bogey of the week and fell back to 19-under for the tournament. With four holes left to play, Higgs knew his first Korn Ferry Tour title was within reach.
“On No. 14, when Grant made the double, I figured I was at least two or three up,” Higgs said. “Fortunately, on those last few holes, I ended up getting some good numbers and played away from some flags.”
With the win, Higgs jumped to No. 4 in The 25 and officially locked up his first PGA TOUR card. In 2018, Higgs won the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Order of Merit before joining the Korn Ferry Tour this season. The Southern Methodist University product noted how 2018 helped shape his season this year.
“I had to qualify to play PGA TOUR Latinoamérica last year, and that might have been the best thing for me,” he recalled. “I had to prove it and I had to qualify. I carried a lot of what I did to finish last year into this season. Fortunately, it was good enough to have some good finishes and good results this year. Obviously, I was very fortunate this week to get my first win.”
On Sunday at Highland Springs Country Club, the 27-year-old earned his first title in front of family and friends.
“It just means a lot,” Higgs said. “It means a lot that my mom and dad and family and friends were able to make it. I’ll take a win anywhere, but it’s nice to be home.”
Wheatcroft and Svoboda finished the week in a tie for second at 20-under 268. Wheatcroft jumped 50 spots in The 25 to 38th and surpassed the 375-point threshold estimated to secure players a spot in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Svoboda climbed 78 spots to No. 67 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List.