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Haig holds sway with Houghton Challenge victory

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Resurgent Anton Haig kept his comeback campaign on track with back-to-back victories on the IGT Tour, while Benoni’s Lejan Lewthwaite and Carrie Park from South Korea upstaged a clutch of Sunshine Tour pros to complete the top three in the Houghton Challenge on Wednesday.
Haig took control at Houghton Golf Club with a bogey-free nine-under-par 63 in round two and shot 69 in the final round to close out his second victory on 10 under 206. Lewthwaite returned a 70 to finish three shots back and Park signed for an even-par 72 to take third on six under.
Four-time international champion Haig last visited the winner’s circle at the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2007.
Since he started his comeback on the IGT Tour in February, he has collected two titles, two runner-up finishes and two third places, a tie for sixth and a joint eighth finish in eight starts. He knows he has to make up for lost time, but at 29, rushing at a snail’s pace is a better fit for Haig right now.
‘Back then I was too young and I chased a lot of empty dreams,’ Haig said. ‘This time I want to get it right. Another win is a great result, but it doesn’t mean I’m ready for the big league just yet. I take a lot of positives out of this one, though. I didn’t play as well this week as I did at ERPM. I hit the ball great and the putter was good, but not as good. This one was tougher to win and it was never in the bag until the last couple of holes.
‘It’s good to know that even if you don’t have your A-game, you still have the depth of character and the resolve to grind out a victory. Investec, Dimension Data and TaylorMade put their faith in me and every week that I get a little closer towards competing on the Sunshine Tour, I get a little more excited for them and for me.’
Seeing Lewthwaite and Park shine also excites Haig. ‘I think Carrie and Lejan are going to inspire a lot of young girls and that’s what we need for the women’s game in South Africa,’ he said.
‘I’m really grateful to have the IGT Tour help me ease my way back into competitive golf, but let’s not forget that it is first and foremost a development Tour. This is where these young girls and guys come to learn to compete and prepare for the next stage. These two ladies are incredibly talented and I have to commend coaches like Graeme Francis and Dougie Wood who see the value of the IGT Tour and encourage their players to play here before they take the leap to the pro circuit.
‘Look at Carrie; she got the best preparation possible for the Sunshine Ladies Tour here and it showed in her results. And the IGT Tour will do the same for Lejan.’
Lewthwaite was positively beaming after her first top five finish. ‘Oh man, it feels great to earn a cheque,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t pretty. I bogeyed 11 and 18 and I had a three-putt double bogey at 12, but I made six birdies to hang in there.’
The 24-year-old Wanna Be A Champion player graduated at Texas State University last year and completed an internship. She returned to South Africa just in time to claim a runner-up finish in the SA Women’s Open.
‘Once the Sunshine Ladies Tour started in January, I was out of my depth, though’ said Lewthwaite.
‘The pace was insane and I wasn’t prepared for it. You barely had time to work on your game before the next event teed off. It just felt as if I never got going. I started poorly on the IGT Tour, too, but competing regularly has given me time to adjust. I’ve got a nice rhythm going between events and coaching and training and I am getting my confidence back.’
Lewthwaite and Park both hope to raise sponsorship to compete in the First Stage of the LPGA Qualifying School. In the meantime, they just want keep on improving.
‘I was really happy to get another top three finish so soon after the ERPM Challenge,’ said GFG Academy’s Park. ‘It shows me that I’m on the right track with the work I’m doing on my swing and putting. I’m getting positive results and I’m learning how keep a cool head under pressure even when I have need to scramble. If I look at my results a year ago, I can really see the improvement and that just makes me hungry to push the boat out some more.’

FINAL RESULT
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs are indicated as AMA:
206 – Anton Haig 74 63 69
209 – Lejan Lewthwaite 74 65 70
210 – Carrie Park 71 67 72
212 – Simon Kruger 69 69 74
213 – Breyten Meyer 72 68 73
214 – Coert Groenewald 71 72 71, Heinrich Bruiners 70 70 74, David Ashley (ENG) 72 67 75
215 – Stuart Smith (BOT) 73 70 72, Hilton Hughes AMA 74 67 74, Derryn Mitri AMA 70 71 74
216 – Jason Viljoen 73 71 72, Russel Franz 71 69 76
218 – Louis Taylor 76 72 70, CJ du Plessis 71 69 78
220 – Jonathan Waschefort 78 66 76, Conway Kunneke 73 70 77
221 – Calvin Caldeira 73 74 74
222 – Tyron Mc Comb 74 73 75, Stephan Erasmus AMA 74 72 76
223 – Dylan Docherty 74 77 72, Duane Keun 70 78 75, Dongkwan Kim (KOR) 75 78 70, Gerard Du Plooy 77 67 79
225 – Paul De Beer 73 77 75, Werner Van Wyk 75 72 78, CJ Levey 72 74 79, Ruan Korb AMA 76 76 73
226 – John McClean (NIR) 75 74 77
228 – Jacques De Villiers 72 78 78, Eddie Taylor 80 71 77, Matt Wollmann AMA (ZIM) 79 73 76, Terence Boardman 75 77 76
229 – Gary Daoust AMA (BEL) 76 73 80
230 – Marco De Beer AMA 78 78 74
231 – Matt Bright 69 79 83, Mohit Mediratta AMA (KEN) 73 78 80
232 – NJ Arnoldi 78 74 80, Ricky Hendler AMA 77 79 76
233 – Angelo Marques AMA 76 72 85
234 – Karl Lehmacher AMA 79 74 81, Ricki Dembo 77 78 79
235 – Leon Visser AMA 75 80 80
236 – Bryce Myburgh 81 73 82, Divan Marais 81 79 76, Adam Baker AMA 80 80 76
237 – Brendan Britten (NAM) 74 77 86, Graeme Limper AMA 79 74 84
239 – Liam Bezuidenhout AMA 80 76 83
240 – Tumie Motale 77 80 83
241 – Michael Kok AMA 80 72 89
243 – JP Schmidt AMA 79 76 88, NJ Van Der Walt AMA 80 79 84, Jadrick Fourie AMA 82 78 83
245 – Stephen Forsyth AMA 81 74 90, Shaun Carter 78 79 88
248 – Jordan Parsons AMA 77 83 88
RTD – Sam Metcalfe AMA 80 75 RTD
DSQ – Clinton Cheia 80 74 DSQ


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