Haig Claims Maiden Title at Pulai Springs Malaysian Masters

Sun 03 Sep 2006

Haig Claims Maiden Title at Pulai Springs Malaysian Masters

Johor Bahru, Malaysia, September 3: South African Anton Haig claimed his maiden Asian Tour title with a victory at the US$300,000 Pulai Springs Malaysian Masters on Sunday.

The 20-year-old champion carded a winning total of 22-under-par 266 as he walked away with the top prize of US$47,550. With the win, Haig moved up to 45th place on the Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit and has also booked his place for the Barclays Singapore Open next week.

Haig took advantage of two late bogeys by Indian talent Jyoti Randhawa on the 17th and 18th holes as the South African fired birdies on both holes for a steady four-under-par 68. Scotsman Barry Hume finished runner-up when he carded a 66 a stroke adrift. Englishman Yasin Ali had an enjoyable run when he scored a 67 and claimed joint third spot. But it was a disappointing finish for Randhawa who ended his campaign with a 68 alongside Yasin in tied third position.

Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chie-hsiang was pleased with his score of 71 for lone fifth place as the top five finishers from the Pulai Springs Malaysian Masters qualify for the Barclays Singapore Open.

The big-hitting South African was on the move when he birdied the third hole but stumbled to a bogey on the fourth hole. He bounced back with a birdie at the fifth hole before dropping another shot on the eighth hole. He enjoyed a fine run on the back nine with birdies on the 10th, 12th and 14th holes. After a dropped shot on the 15th hole, Haig shifted into high gear with two crucial birdies at the 17th and 18th holes that led to his maiden victory.

“I can hardly speak, it’s such a great feeling winning my first title on the Asian Tour,” said Haig, who also qualified for the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai in November.

“I’ve been working hard during the mid-year break and I am thankful that it worked out great today. The last two holes were quite nerve-wracking for me.

“I don’t know how I made it but I was putting well the whole week. All I needed to do was to put my head down and go for it. When I saw it go in (the final birdie putt) it was the best feeling I ever had. I struck it close to the pin on the 17th hole while Randhawa’s par attempt drifted left. The six foot birdie putt on the final hole was just fantastic.

“I’ve been working hard on my short game. I am a long hitter but I found that my game wasn’t strong enough overall. I worked on pitching and putting and my overall short game. I was very fortunate that I’ve been hitting my driver very straight. Nico is not getting back his driver,” said Haig, who has been using a borrowed driver from countryman Nico Van Rensburg.

Hume, who was in contention midway through the final round, had a sluggish start with a bogey on the first hole but he smashed in seven birdies to steal the sole second spot.

Randhawa shot six birdies and two bogeys before taking the lead after an eagle on the 16th hole. But disaster struck as he finished with two bogeys on the 17th and 18th holes. He slipped down to joint third when he missed a four foot par putt on the 18th hole.

Yasin was pleased with his round as he enjoyed his best finish on his maiden season on the Asian Tour.

 “It’s a great feeling to come in second place and to move up on the final day,” said Yasin, who shot six birdies against a lone bogey.

“It was nerve-wracking as we did not even look at the leaderboard. Barry and I are good friends so we were chatting a lot as we’re in the same group, so it was an enjoyable ride.

“I needed a good finish and this is definitely it so I am very pleased to be among the top finishers,” he said.

Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat was the highest ranked Thai player as he was even-par for the day in tied sixth spot while compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant shot a 71 as he finished in joint 13th position alongside countryman Chinarat Phadungsil who carded a 69.

Leading final round scores

266 - Anton Haig (RSA) 63-66-69-68

267 - Barry Hume (SCO) 67-67-67-66

268 - Yasin Ali (ENG) 68-67-66-67, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 70-64-66-68

271 - Lin Chie-hsiang (TPE) 68-69-63-71, 272 - Park Jun-Won (KOR) 71-67-68-66, Richard Moir (AUS) 69-67-68-68, Jason Knutzon (USA) 69-66-68-69, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 65-65-70-72

273 - David Gleeson (AUS) 72-65-70-66, Kao Bo-song (TPE) 69-62-74-68, Chan Song (KOR) 68-70-67-68

274 - Zaw Moe (MYN) 66-67-73-68, Eddie Lee (NZL) 68-69-69-68, Edward Loar (USA) 69-69-67-69, Matt Keegan (AUS) 67-68-70-69, Chinarat Phadungsil (THA) 69-67-69-69, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 71-66-67-70, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 69-67-67-71