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Haig celebrates comeback with fourth IGT Tour victory

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After nearly eight months on the back burner following hip and knee surgery, Anton Haig lit up in spectacular style when he went wire-to-wire in the Killarney Challenge on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Dainfern Country Club golfer was quick to point out though that his fourth IGT Challenge Tour victory took way more work than he bargained for.

‘That was probably the hardest win of my career,’ said Haig, who triumphed by three shots on four-under 206 over Pretoria amateur Arno Pretorius.

‘After I made a really a strong start to the last round, the nerves set in and things unravelled badly on the back nine. I hung tough, though, and I got it done.’

Haig took pole position at Killarney Country Club with a five-under-par 65 in the first round.

He was just a slender shot clear of Pretorius at the start of the final round after shooting 72 in round two, but he raced six strokes clear of the chasing pack with an eagle at the par-five fifth, birdies at two, three, six and eight and lone bogey at the par-three fourth.

‘I was seven shots ahead after a bogey at 10, but then the wheels came off,’ said Haig. ‘I shanked my tee shot and dropped two shots at 12 and bogeyed 13 after another bad tee shot. I got one in the hole for birdie at 14, but bogeyed the par five straight after. I felt the pressure and I got nervous and I just couldn’t get it going on the back nine.

‘I knew starting my first event would be hard after such a long lay-off, but it was tougher than I imagined. It was all I could do to cling to that lead down the home stretch, but hanging tough over the closing holes was good for the confidence.’

Although Pretorius closed the gap with birdies at 11 and 14, Haig’s three-stroke lead held firm as the Pretoria Country Club amateur also played the last three holes at par.

‘Everyone knows winning is a good habit to have,’ Haig said after signing for 69. ‘It gives you a lot of confidence and at the moment I need that confidence.

‘Pulling it through brings a lot of confidence to my game. Hopefully it will show up next week in the first Big Easy Tour event, but I’ll keep my expectations on the low side. If the game shows up, great; if it doesn’t, we move on.

‘You’re only as strong as the team around you. My lovely Lauren (Cowley), for her love and support, my coach Doug Wood and the team at Wanna Be A Champion who got me back to this point, and Investec, Dimension Data and Stuart Conway, who threw their support behind me and kept me motivated to keep grinding my way back to the top.

‘It felt really good to get out there again and compete. Despite the nerves and the hiccups on the back nine, I’m so pleased to see a good result after all the hard work of the last few months.’

Pretorius closed with 71 to take second on 209, Duane Keun signed off with 70 for third place at 210, and Martin Wessels finished in fourth on 211 after a final round 73.

Sunshine Ladies Tour pro Ivanna Samu had another solid day at Killarney to round of the top five alongside Warrick Druian, Eric Nel, Simon Kruger and Pieter Moolman at 213.

Picture of Haig courtesy of CJ du Plooy

Final Result
All competitors SA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA
206 – Anton Haig 65 72 69
209 – Arno Pretorius AMA 71 67 71
210 – Duane Keun 71 69 70
211 – Maritz Wessels 68 70 73
214 – Warrick Druian 70 73 71, Ivanna Samu 74 67 73, Eric Nel AMA 70 70 74, Simon Kruger 70 69 75, Pieter Moolman 67 72 75
215 – Quintin Crause 70 74 71, Divan Marais 71 72 72, Basil Wright 71 71 73, Clinton Grobler 72 70 73, Bennie Van Der Merwe 69 71 75
217 – Bryce Myburgh 74 70 73
219 – Conway Kunneke 74 70 75, Jack Duthie 71 73 75, Michael Dreyer 70 73 76
221 – CJ Levey 71 71 79
222 – Brendan Britten (NAM) 73 75 74
223 – Kyle Barker 77 75 71, David Mofokeng 73 77 73, Matthew Vogel 76 72 75, Mpho Mafishe 69 77 77, Ruhan Van Dijk AMA 72 73 78
224 – Juan Langeveld 73 74 77, Aneel Kallan AMA 78 73 73, Francesca Cuturi 74 75 75, Thabi Ngcobo 75 74 75, Thabang Simon 77 72 75, Tristan Barnard AMA 70 77 77
225 – Gary Daoust (BEL) 77 75 73
226 – Tudor Bismark (ZIM) 72 80 74, Shaun van Tonder 76 71 79
227 – Jeff Hopkins (IRE) 78 75 74, Ruan Korb 72 73 82
228 – Paul Rodrigues AMA 74 77 77
229 – Lincon Cele 76 73 80
231 – Duan Nagel AMA 77 74 80
232 – Albert Visser 78 72 82
236 – Vaughn Van Deventer AMA 76 79 81, JP Schmidt AMA 74 81 81, Ricardo Towell 78 77 81
238 – Songezo Sonamzi 77 78 83
240 – Bradley Van Biljon AMA 73 79 88
WDN – Tyron Mc Comb 75 72 WDN
DSQ – NJ Van Der Walt AMA 76 77 DSQ


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