19th May 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Hat-trick hero Haig signs off in style at Ruimsig
Coming off back-to-back victories in the ERPM Challenge and Houghton Challenge, the 29-year-old Nelspruit golfer showed off his budding confidence at Ruimsig Country Club as he build an unassailable lead with six birdies in the Ruimsig Challenge.
Haig signed off with a five-under-par 67 to close out a seven stroke victory on 17 under 199.
Damian Naicker and amateur Ryan Wingrove posted a pair of 67s to share the runner-up spot, while first round leader Simon Kruger (72), Duane Keun (73) and amateur Ruan Korb (67) shared fourth on seven under.
Haig was delighted to claim a piece of IGT Tour history as the first player since three-time Sunshine Tour winner Danie van Tonder in 2011 to win three consecutive titles in one season, but pointed out that he still has a lot of work to do.
“I’m over the moon to win three in a row, but now is not the time to get ahead of myself,” Haig said.
“I’m pleased with how my game is evolving, but there is still room for improvement. Plus, Danie got two hat-tricks in 2011, so I still have quite a way to go to equal that record.”
Haig’s statistics support his candid assessment of his game.
Over 54 holes, he racked up 18 birdies and two eagles, hit 88.89 percent greens in regulation and his putting average was 1.65, but his driving accuracy is still below 50 percent.
“I’m striking the ball well and I’m hitting it really long, so I can play the par fives like par fours,” he said.
“I’m giving myself a lot of scoring opportunities with my irons and the putter is working very well, but I’m still battling with the driver. I hit three-wood a lot this week, because the Big Dog is still a little erratic at times.
“Today I struck it beautifully and everything worked together perfectly. I only missed one green in regulation when I drove it into the trees at 16. I got my second close to the green, but couldn’t up-and-down to save par. It was the kind of round that feeds the confidence.”
Haig’s last victory was his fourth visit to the winner’s circle at the 2007 Johnnie Walker Classic, but he celebrated his IGT Tour triple after just six starts on the country’s premier development Tour.
“I didn’t compete for more than two years, so I am feeling very positive about the road back to the Sunshine Tour after the last four months,” he said. “Playing the IGT Tour has helped me to get my feet wet again and the three wins has strengthened my belief that I am doing this at the right time and the right pace.
“Of course I would like to test myself at the next level and hopefully there will be some invitations to compete on the Big Easy Tour, maybe the Mena Tour or the Sunshine Tour in the future. But like they always told us as amateurs, you need to earn your stripes to get to the next level. It’s really gratifying to see the progress I’ve made and it leaves me excited to see what the future will bring.”