Aldrich Potgieter, 19, has become the youngest winner in Korn Ferry Tour history.
Potgieter etched his name into golf lore Wednesday at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club, carding 10-under 278 for a two-stroke victory over Quade Cummins and Kyle Westmoreland.
Potgieter (19 years, 4 months, 11 days) surpasses Jason Day for the record as the Korn Ferry Tour’s youngest winner. The precocious South African also becomes the youngest winner on either the PGA TOUR or Korn Ferry Tour since Ralph Guldahl at the 1931 Santa Monica Open (19 years, 2 months, 3 days).
After 20-year-old Nick Dunlap’s victory at The American Express last week, the youth movement in professional golf is in full force.
Additionally, Potgieter is the fourth teenager to win on the Korn Ferry Tour, joining Day, Sungjae Im and Akshay Bhatia. The previous three are all PGA TOUR winners, with Day winning 13 TOUR titles, Im winning two TOUR events, and Bhatia capturing his first TOUR title at the 2023 Barracuda Championship while playing on Special Temporary Membership.
“I was just trying to make the cut… improve on the status. I didn’t expect this today,” Potgieter said. “I was looking at the leaderboard a couple times and just trying to move up, move up slowly and give myself some chances on the putting green. I felt really comfortable, gave myself those opportunities and holed some of them.
“We saw Nick Dunlap win last week, and that was a reminder that it can be done,” Potgieter said. “I’m just happy to be playing here and to get the opportunity to play here. To make history, that’s just another bonus on top of the win.”
Potgieter began the final round at 3-under par and five strokes behind 54-hole leader Kyle Westmoreland.
After birdies on three of the first four holes, Potgieter bounced back from a bogey at the par-4 seventh with an eagle at the par-5 eighth. A three-putt bogey at the par-3 10th would be Potgieter’s only stumble on the back nine, and he countered it with birdies at the par-4 12th and par-5 14th.
Having pulled even with Quade Cummins, the clubhouse leader at 8-under par who could only watch the leaderboard after he carded a 7-under 65 for the low round of the tournament, Potgieter birdied the par-4 16th for the outright lead. Potgieter closed out the victory and a final-round 7-under 65 with a birdie at the par-5 18th.
Windy conditions made scoring difficult for much of the week, as Potgieter’s winning total of 10-under 278 marked the second-highest winning score in the seven iterations of the event. Only Rafael Campos’ 7-under 281 en route to victory in 2019 was a higher winning total at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club.
Potgieter turned professional last summer following a solo-64th finish at the 2023 U.S. Open. His amateur career included a breakthrough victory at the 2022 Amateur Championship, where, roughly three months before his 18th birthday, he became the second-youngest winner in the history of the storied event.
“I was playing really good golf from a young age, so I thought, from my view, college was like an extra four years of preparing to become professional,” Potgieter said. “I know they have great opportunities, great teams behind them, and you can see a lot of the players are coming from college teams are doing really good. That was an option, but I wanted to get the experience done and just make sure my game is good enough, and just grind it out… learn stuff these guys are going to have to learn now coming out of college.
“After winning (The Amateur), I had to make that decision, and I thought turning pro was a good one.”
Ironically, Potgieter made his professional debut at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Compliance Solutions Championship, finishing T35 as a sponsor exemption a week after his final start as an amateur at the U.S. Open. A week later, Potgieter made his first PGA TOUR start as a professional at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which he played via a sponsor exemption. Three weeks later, Potgieter Monday qualified for the Korn Ferry Tour’s NV5 Invitational presented by Old National Bank.
Potgieter’s made cut at the U.S. Open also granted him an exemption to Second Stage of 2023 PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry. Playing at the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club site in Valdosta, Georgia, Potgieter won by four strokes, earning him guaranteed starts for the first eight events of the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour season.
Although Potgieter missed his first opportunity at a PGA TOUR card at Final Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry (he finished T81, and only the top five and ties earned TOUR membership), it may not be long before he earns a promotion to golf’s biggest stage.
“Now it’s just adapting to playing every week,” Potgieter said, before noting what he will focus on for the remainder of 2024 as a fully exempt member. “Just keeping the mind straight and moving forward every week, and just forgetting the bad stuff, and trying to move forward every day.” – Korn Ferry Tour (Image: Getty).