10th May 2017 | Big Easy IGT Golf
More heroics from Haig on IGT Challenge Tour
(PHOTO – Anton Haig; credit CJ du Plooy)
BRAKPAN, 10 May 2017 – Anton Haig gave himself a belated birthday present when he captured his fifth IGT Challenge Tour title with a brilliant seven-under-par 65 in the final round of the State Mines Challenge in Brakpan on Wednesday.
Haig withstood a late charge from Sunshine Tour campaigner Breyten Meyer to win by four shots, sealing a second successive victory on the country’s premier golf development Tour with a stunning total of 16-under-par 200 at State Mines Country Club.
The winner’s cheque worth R7 800 might be peanuts compared to the € 310,801 he banked with his Johnnie Walker triumph in 2007, but for Haig, every trophy these days is special.
“Last year I had to battle through the pain barrier for my three IGT Challenge Tour wins,” said Haig, who turned 31 on Monday.
“Coming back eight months after hip and knee surgery was scary and I had doubts; I didn’t know if I had what it takes to do it all over again. After I won at Killarney, I still wasn’t sure.
“I played my first Big Easy Tour event last week and the pressure was intense. It’s been a long time since I’ve been under that kind of pressure. This win has really built some confidence. It means a lot to cross the line, and to see that the work I put in is reaping the right kind of rewards. The more I get into the top five, the easier it will get to take another step forward.”
Haig made 17 birdies and four eagles over the course of three rounds.
Other than a couple of errant tee shots over the three rounds, my ball striking is really great but the short stick was on strike in the first round.
“I made two eagles and three birdies but I had five three-putts for a 71. It was a great relief when I got it going in the second round and walked off with eight birdies and an eagle. It’s a pretty short course and you are almost always driving it near the green, so you expect to score low.”
And low he went in the final round, starting with an eagle at the par five third after he knocked a nine-iron to six feet. He backed it up with birdies at four, five and eight, where he drained 40-foot monster to keep the momentum going.
“I birdied nine and 11, but gave one back at 12,” he said. “I blocked my tee shot into the trees right and chipped out but I couldn’t up-and-down to save par. Breyten started the back nine birdie, eagle and closed the gap to two shots with birdies at 13 and 14.
“I just stayed patient and kept the ball in play until I knocked in a birdie putt at 17. He dropped at the last hole, but we had a good rally going on the back nine.”
Haig plans to head to the European Tour Qualifying School later this year and having two wins at the start of his season is a step in the right direction.
“When I was laid up I watched golf and I wondered if I would be able to get out there and play,” he said. “And now I’m here. After this I feel like anything is possible.
“Every win is special but for a guy like me that hasn’t won in while, it means that little bit more. I feel like I’ve overcome yet another hurdle. Hopefully I can take this form to the next Big Easy event and get that top five finish. It’s a very good start, but I’m taking it one round at a time.”
Meyer finished at 12 under with a 68 and Chris Cannon from England closed with a 67 to take third at nine under. David Mofokeng from Lesotho carded 70 for a share of fourth at eight under with Bennie van der Merwe, who signed off with a 71.