Haig wins Johnnie Walker Classic

South Africa's Anton Haig won a nail-biting three-way playoff to win his first European Tour title at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Phuket on Sunday.

updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Phuket, Thailand:

South Africa's Anton Haig won a nail-biting three-way playoff against compatriot Richard Sterne and England's Oliver Wilson to win his first European Tour title at the Johnnie Walker Classic at the Blue Canyon Country Club on Sunday. The three contenders all finished regular play with a four-round 13-under 275. The 20-year-old from Johannesburg sent his three-foot putt home for a birdie in the 18th hole shoot-out to win for the first time in 17 appearances in the European Tour. The $2.44 million tournament is co-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australian Tours. The winner gets prize money of $405,000 and an exemption qualification for the European Tour. Among the most favored pre-game contenders, South African Retief Goosen turned in the most creditable performance, holding fourth place to himself with 10-under 278. Canadian Mike Weir, the 2003 US Masters champion, was just a stroke behind, holding solo fifth with 279. South Africa's Ernie Els, the world No 6, was one more stroke back, sharing sixth at eight-under 280 with Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, countryman David Frost, and India's Gaurav Ghei. World No 4 Adam Scott of Australia shared the 25th spot with six other players at 4-under 284. Unexpected win Haig said afterward that he hadn't originally expected to win, but after a second round eight-under 64, "I knew I was hitting the ball good enough to win, and thank God that driver went straight for me today and the putts fell." On the decisive 403-yard, par 4 playoff hole, he said he hit a good drive down the middle and a smooth wedge to about ten feet to set up the winning putt. Round three leader Sterne had been holding on to his one-stroke lead with 14-under until a bogey at the 17th hole pushed him back to share the lead with Wilson at 13-under. The pair were joined in the leader's spot by Haig when he scored a late birdie at the 18th hole. Sterne's luck failed him on the playoff hole, when his eight-foot putt touched the rim, but failed to go into the hole. The top player in the Asian contingent, India's Gaurav Ghei, shot a last round eight-under 64 to stride from 50th to joint sixth with a total eight-under 280. The 38-year-old from New Delhi started superbly with an eagle in his opening hole before collecting eight more birdies to land a bogey free round. He became the third player apart from Anton Haig and Richard Sterne to achieve the same mark this week. The venue for the tournament changes every year, and has been held in the past in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan and China.