6th December 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Visser edges Haig, Strydom for Kyalami title
(PHOTO – Leon Visser with Fonz Jardim from Kyalami Country Club; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 6 December 2017 – Mpumalanga amateur Leon Visser kept a cool head to edge out Anton Haig and Tristen Strydom in a sudden-death play-off for his second IGT Challenge Tour title at Kyalami Country Club on Wednesday.
Visser had an eagle putt at the final hole outright in regulation play, but missed. Over the two extra holes, though, the 20-year-old from Ermelo played faultless golf to win the ninth event in the Race to Q-School Series.
Strydom – hunting consecutive victories after his fourth triumph on the country’s premier golf development circuit at State Mines last week – headed into the final round two shots behind overnight leader Haig. He fired birdies at 17 and 18 for a three-under-par 69 to set the clubhouse target at four-under 212.
First round leader Visser trailed Haig by one shot, but he offset a pair of bogeys with three birdies and boxed the birdie putt at 18 to grab a share of the lead with a two-under 70.
Peetie van der Merwe briefly flirted with the lead, but Haig regained control with a pair of birdies at 12 and 13. His title bid took a hit with back-to-back bogeys at 15 and 16, though, but the four-time IGT Challenge Tour winner holed a birdie-putt at 18 for a 71 to join the tie at the top.
“We played 17 first and I was first off the tee,” said Visser. “I was on the green, but Anton and Tristen both blocked their tee-shots right. They hit two great chip shots and we all made par.
“I went first again at 18 and drove it straight down the middle. Haigie went with a three-wood, also straight down the middle, but Tristen hit his driver too good and finished into the dam. My five-iron approach finished just short of the green and Haigie hit his pin-high left. He cleared the bunker with another great chip and hit it to five feet.
“I took a nine-iron and hit a bump-and-run to about 25 feet. I was almost in the exact position from where I missed the eagle putt in regulation play. I knew he would make the putt, so I had to box it to stay in the play-off. I decided to hit it straight and firm this time and this time, the ball dropped.
“I couldn’t believe it when Haigie’s birdie putt lipped out. I was staring at his ball in shock and it didn’t even register that I’d won. It was only when my caddie congratulated me that it hit home.
“I put a lot of hours into my game the since I won the Services Challenge in September and it’s great when all that hard work pay off. There is always room to improve, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy this moment. Hopefully I can build on it in the coming weeks.”