17th May 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Haig lines up IGT Tour hat-trick at Ruimsig
The 29-year-old Nelspruit golfer was in majestic form as he reeled in five birdies and an eagle at the par five ninth to post a flawless seven-under-par 65 at Ruimsig Country Club. Haig’s sublime display lifted him to 12-under-par 132 and he will start the final round four shots clear of Ladybrand pro Duane Keun, who signed for a four under 68.
First round leader Simon Kruger returned a 71 to finish five off the pace, while a 69 moved Korean DK Kim to fourth on six under. Damian Naicker shot a 67 to grab a share of fifth alongside amateur Ryan Wingrove and former IGT Tour winner David Ashley from England, who both registered 68s.
Haig took pole position after racking up a trio birdies from the fourth and he turned in six under after a birdie-eagle combination at the eighth and ninth holes.
“I hit the ball close on the front nine, but just couldn’t convert for a birdie over the first eight holes on the back nine,” Haig said. “It was a little frustrating, sure, but I was rewarded for my patience with the birdie at 18.”
Haig launched his comeback on the country’s premier development Tour in February after more than two years out of the game and he set himself a couple of goals.
“I wanted to start at the bottom and work my way back to the main circuit,” Haig said. “When you are out of the game as long as me, you forget how to win and you need to train yourself to handle the pressure. I wanted to put myself in contention as much as possible to get back that competitive edge.”
Haig started off with three top 10 finishes, followed with four top fives and then came the back-to-back victories in the ERPM Challenge and Houghton Challenge.
“This is exactly what I was aiming for and I’m really pleased with how the season is going,” Haig said. “I am enjoying the challenge and the chase. It’s important that I do this it at my own pace and the IGT Tour allows me to do that.”
Haig is striking the ball with the kind of freedom that saw him dominated the amateur circuit in South Africa and he is re-gaining the self-confidence that earned him victories on the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours between 2004 and 2007.
“I feel that I am definitely heading in the right direction,” he said. “It’s important to make the most of the IGT Tour to prepare for the Sunshine Tour. If I get any invitations to play on other Tours, I want to be physically and emotionally ready to make the most of it. I don’t see the point of running before you can walk. Right now, I’d say I am building up to a comfortable trot.”