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March 2, 2007

Anton Haig


GORDON SIMPSON: Low round of the week in the Johnnie Walker Classic, 64, equalling the course record, a wonderful position to be in at the halfway stage. How does your 8-under par today stack up with your rounds this year?
ANTON HAIG: Well, I've been practising hard this year and working a bit on the golf swing, and my coach has really helped me back in South Africa. I really have been working hard, and it's about time that it's shown on the golf course. And a lot of help from my management group, ISM and Louis Martin, he's helped me a lot; and also the Asian Tour and my folks who really support me, it's helped a great lot.
GORDON SIMPSON: Did your parents just fly in for this tournament?
ANTON HAIG: Yes. And I should mention my caddie, Jason, who has been on the bag for a couple of weeks now. But it's all been a team effort and just happy to be at the top now.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you feel it's all getting into place now, that's what you have to do, have all the component parts working together?
ANTON HAIG: It's definitely a sign when you're feeling comfortable, you give it your all, and that's what I'm doing at the moment, just trusting the golf swing, not thinking too much about it. I definitely leaving a few poor shots out there, but as long as I can narrow it to one.
GORDON SIMPSON: People were back pedalling today and you were going forward, what was the key element to your game?
ANTON HAIG: Well, just to keep good composure out there and to keep fighting and never to give up. I didn't make everything. I hit all the par 5s in two and really, really did hit it good out there. Hardly missed any fairways, putted really solid. All in all, compared to yesterday, I really hit it a lot better.

Q. Can you just talk about whether people like Ernie Els and Retief have been an influence for you or people who you looked up to how they might have helped your game?
ANTON HAIG: I played with Ernie and Retief in a practise round on Tuesday and what an experience, I had never played with them are before. And Louis (Martin) organised that for me, so what a legend to him. Yeah, it's been a great week for me.

Q. More generally, having people of the stature of Ernie and Retief?
ANTON HAIG: Well, as a youngster growing up, watching Ernie and Retief, awesome players, great golf swings, and their composure on the golf course is awesome to watch. It's just a privilege to even be playing in a tournament with them.

Q. Are they the sort of people you can go up to and ask for tips and can help you in the future?
ANTON HAIG: Retief I don't know too well. But Ernie I've gotten to know quite well in these past couple of weeks. Yeah, I can go up to ask and him a few things. I imagine he might come up to me this week and ask me a few things. (Laughter).

Q. Is there anything you can put your finger on, the difference from yesterday to today, significant change that got you on the leaderboard?
ANTON HAIG: Well, I changed putters from yesterday and yeah, definitely worked I guess. But yeah, I felt good on the range this morning, putter was a little bit easier for me on the range, warming up a bit better, so I feel a lot more comfortable out there.

Q. Will you be carrying that for the rest of the weekend?
ANTON HAIG: Hopefully. I've got a big field behind me chasing me, so it's not over until the fat lady sings, I guess.

Q. You won in Malaysia, do you feel that you can draw on your experience from last year to help you over the weekend?
ANTON HAIG: Yeah, I led from round one to round end. I mean, I've done it before, but it's a different field, like you said, and the world's best players out here.
So I just have to keep the nerves down and get some good sleep and just relax out there and hopefully let it fall into place.

Q. What's your European Tour experience?
ANTON HAIG: I haven't played much on The European Tour. I've had my Asian Tour card, this is my second year playing out here. I mean, I got a few starts last year at the dunhill links and British Masters through Chubby Chandler, and here, so hopefully I can have a good finish.

Q. What's your best finish in a European Tour event?
ANTON HAIG: Probably 23rd at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Q. Are you an affiliate member of The European Tour?

Q. Paul Casey looks like he's going to miss the cut, and yet you managed to produce that performance.
ANTON HAIG: Well, I mean, the course is always tough. The 14th hole is an absolute nightmare. You get up on that tee and your nerves start fluttering a bit.
But a few great golf holes out there. You really -- the thing about this course is you've got to be precise on the tight holes. You can't make mistakes on the tight holes. But also the tight holes, there are a few wide open holes where you can afford to mis-hit a few shots. It's just the holes that are tight that you really have to focus on and try and lower your score on those ones.

Q. You're 21, aren't you?
ANTON HAIG: 21 in May.

Q. Do you see sort of yourself at this stage as the next big thing from South Africa, or are you not really looking that far ahead?
ANTON HAIG: Well, I mean, I'm just going to let my clubs do the talking. I don't like saying I'm going to be there and make a fool of myself if I don't. I'm good enough to get there slowly. So I mean. I'm just going to work hard, let clubs do the talking, and hopefully be out there with Ernie and Retief in the future.

Q. What kind of amateur career have you had, if at all?
ANTON HAIG: I represented South Africa in a couple of occasions. I won the SA Amateur, the SA Boys in the one year and then pulled some ligaments in my left leg and out for a good year. But nothing special over in Europe. I represented South Africa in the Junior World in San Diego, finished 12th and 13th there. And then Japan, didn't have a great one there, but yeah.
GORDON SIMPSON: Anton, a great effort today. Keep it up over the weekend. Thanks very much for coming in.

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