Haeggman begins climb back to top

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The Independent Online

Joakim Haeggman, one of Sam Torrance's backroom team for Europe's 2001 Ryder Cup triumph, reignited his own career yesterday by winning the Qatar Masters here.

Joakim Haeggman, one of Sam Torrance's backroom team for Europe's 2001 Ryder Cup triumph, reignited his own career yesterday by winning the Qatar Masters here.

The 34-year-old former Ryder Cup player, whose world ranking had fallen to 223, collected his first title since 1997 after making a 14-foot birdie putt on the final green. A closing 65, which equalled the best round of the day, gave Haeggman a 16-under-par total of 272 and left the overnight leaders, Raphael Jacquelin and Nobuhito Sato, needing to eagle the 581-yard 18th to tie.

Sato's pitch landed two feet in front of the hole but hopped backwards rather than forwards, and when France's Jacquelin, who had bunkered in two, came out well short, Haeggman knew the title was his.

"I would love to play in the European Ryder Cup team again," he said. "This is one small step in this direction. Many more tournaments are coming up and winning here, under pressure, has given me a lot of confidence. I can cope with the pressure and play at the highest level."

Haeggman needed a medical exemption to get on the European tour this year after breaking his ankle playing ice hockey in December 2002, which caused him to miss the first seven months of last season. He became the first Swedish player to represent Europe in 1993, but a year later came another ice hockey injury, a dislocated shoulder and broken ribs. "I'm not going to put my skates back on," he vowed. "I'm not even thinking about playing again."

Sato's birdie at the last gave him second place and pushed Jacquelin, England's Brian Davis and Spain's Jose Manuel Lara into a share of third.

For Davis, who would have gone top of the Order of Merit by winning, that was still good enough to persuade him not to make the trip to Singapore this week and instead return home. The Londoner went to Qatar a career-high 50th in the world, but he needs to remain in the top 50 this week to qualify for next week's Players Championship in Florida and will also earn himself a debut in the Masters at Augusta if he stays there a further week. "Hopefully that's good enough," he said. "I'm very, very happy with five birdies and no bogeys today, but when I didn't birdie the 10th and 11th that pretty much cost me the tournament."

* The British pair of Karen Stupples and Laura Davies both shot 66 in a rain-delayed third round of the Welch's/Fry's Championship in Tucson, Arizona. Stupples finished top of the leaderboard on 15-under 195, one ahead of Davies and Grace Park, of South Korea, who put herself into contention with a 61, the best round of the day. Stupples started one ahead and had five birdies. Her only mistake came at the final hole where she bunkered her approach shot and missed a 10-foot putt for par.

QATAR MASTERS (Doha) Leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 272 J Haeggman (Swe) 75 64 68 65. 273 N Sato (Japan) 68 70 67 68. 274 B Davis 69 70 68 67; R Jacquelin (Fr) 73 67 65 69; J M Lara (Sp) 72 67 68 67 275 M Maritz (SA) 73 67 68 67. 276 G Owen 70 71 70 65. 277 R Chapman 70 71 66 70; R-J Derksen (Neth) 74 67 71 65; S Gallacher 70 72 68 67; D Howell 71 69 67 70. 278 S Hansen (Den) 72 70 72 64; T Jaidee (Thai) 72 70 68 68. 279 B Dredge 71 72 71 65; M Roe 73 67 70 69; A Hansen (Den) 72 68 67 72; P Price 74 66 69 70. 280 A Forsyth 70 73 70 67; R Gonzalez (Arg) 75 67 69 69; J Lomas 76 64 66 74; A Oldcorn 68 70 73 69; J-F Remesy (Fr); 71 69 69 71; C Schwartzel (SA) 72 71 66 71; I Woosnam 69 69 72 70. 281 B Rumford (Aus) 72 69 73 67; R Karlsson (Swe) 73 70 71 67; H Bjornstad (Nor) 72 70 70 69; K Ferrie 72 67 71 71; S Dodd 72 69 69 71.

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