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February 27, 2008

Anton Haig


CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Welcome to the Johnnie Walker Championship as the defending champion.
ANTON HAIG: I am looking forward to it. It is my second time to India. I have never been to Delhi though and I am looking forward to it. It was a long flight today and just got in so I am feeling a little tired but just played the back nine here and so far so good. The greens are running great and the course is in good condition.

Q. Where have you flown in from?
ANTON HAIG: From South Africa after playing in the Telkom PGA where Louis Oosthuizen gave us all a good thrashing. He played incredible golf.

Q. Looking back on 12 months ago and your victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic - what are your memories of that week?
ANTON HAIG: I remember getting on the range and complaining how badly I was hitting it. I then got on the first tee to play a practice round with Ernie Els, Reteif Goosen and David Frost and I was telling them I was struggling and they just got me into the right frame of mind for the week. Playing with my heroes from South Africa was great and I got to know the course well, saw how they handled it and it was a great week.
I have a bit of work to do here on my game this year and have my coach, Jaime Gough, here with me and I am trying to get more width in the golf swing. I have got to keep it in play as it is a tight golf course and the greens are running fast so you need to look for uphill putts.

Q. When was your first visit to India?
ANTON HAIG: Couple of years ago on the Asian Tour up in the mountains. Can't remember the name but it was a beautiful place and we stayed in tents. It was awesome a great experience. A slightly different experience this year staying in the Crowne Plaza and Johnnie Walker know how to put on a show.

Q. How is it coming along with your coach travelling with you?
ANTON HAIG: I need someone with me full time as I do things incorrectly on the range and I need correcting. Jamie is now looking after myself, Charl, James Kingston and Anders Hansen so they are all travelling around the European Tour.

Q. Does it give you more focus?
ANTON HAIG: It helps. If you look at all the top players they all have coaches with them and it keeps your confidence up.

Q. Was that one thing that was missing following your win in the Johnnie Walker Classic?
ANTON HAIG: I was on a roll there, played well in Doral and then came to Europe and the wind knuckled my swing into an awful position at the top. It helps having a coach with you and that is one thing I would recommend to anyone.
Q. You talked of the practice round last year with Els, Goosen and Frost - three greats of South African golf - what do they mean to you?
ANTON HAIG: They have all done South Africa proud. Ernie and Retief winning Majors are a big part of South African golf and have done so much for us. Ernie has his foundation and has done so much for the development of players, he is a big roll model in South Africa and it is always an honour to play with him. The same with the Goose. And Frosty is coming back well nicely now.

Q. What sort of advice have they given you over the last 12 months and what did they say when you won?
ANTON HAIG: It was all a bit of a shock for me, beating all those great players. They always say patience. Patience is a big part of this game and you have to be mentally strong. It is a long road to lead up to a win like that. I had worked hard and the Asian Tour did a lot for me. Winning in Asia was therefore particularly special for me.

Q. You are part of an exciting group of players coming through?
ANTON HAIG: South Africa has really pushed on with its golf standards the last couple of years and there are so many coming through. James Kamte is one who is finding his feet. He is new on the block. James Kingston winning his first European Tour event, he is a pretty special player. And we are all close. We drive each other on and there's definitely a bit of competition, especially with Richard Sterne who loves to have a bet on the sidelines. He is another of the great South African golfers out there.

Q. What are you initial impressions of the course?
ANTON HAIG: The back nine is quite tricky. The rough is not too bad but there are a lot of treelined holes. The greens are very quick, a bit of grain in them so it is difficult to get a read on them, but overall I am very happy and liking what I have seen.

Q. How did you enjoy playing with Kapil Dev in the Pro-Celebrity event?
ANTON HAIG: He was a great cricketer in his day and we South Africans love cricket so it was a great afternoon. We had a good day.

Q. What are your thoughts on the growth on the game in India and the development of Indian golfers?
ANTON HAIG: It is such a big country and it is good to see they are wanting to host more golf tournaments. There is a lot of money in this country and if they put their mind to helping golf out it would be wonderful. Jeev is one of the top 50 players in the World and is a great player, Jyoti is another great player asis Shiv and then we saw SSP Chowrasia winning the Indian Masters a few weeks ago. There are so many good names out there. They have a lot to prove and I am sure they will do it.

Q. What are your own goals this week?
ANTON HAIG: I am not going to put too much pressure this week and want to enjoy it. It is always tough to come back and defend with the pressure but I am looking forward to it and hopefully I will find some form out there this week.

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