2004: Haeggman skates to triumph No. 3

Doha, Qatar

Coming into this season, Joakim Haeggman had two PGA European Tour victories. In 1993, he became the first Swede to play on the Ryder Cup team. And on March 14, he earned his third Euro Tour victory at the Qatar Masters.

You’d think he’d have a pretty good idea about what his favorite sport was. But golf is – at best – his co-favorite with hockey, a sport that has caused him as much pain as thrills in recent years.

Haeggman, 34, is playing on a medical extension this season after missing seven months in 2003 after shattering his ankle in two places playing hockey. In 1994, he dislocated his shoulder and broke his ribs on the ice.

After his victory in Qatar, Haeggman may finally have realized that he’s safer on the course than at the rink.

“I have definitely retired (from hockey),” Haeggman said after earning 201,597 euros (approximately $246,350) with his first victory in seven years (1997 Volvo Scandinavian Masters). “The nearest I come to an ice rink is . . . when I drive past.”

Haeggman shot 7-under-par 65 Sunday for a one-shot victory over Japan’s Nobuhito Sato, who closed with 68. Haeggman finished at 16-under 272 at the Doha Golf Club.

Costly DQ: Miguel Angel Jimenez, 6 under par and five shots off the lead, was disqualified from the Qatar Masters March 14 just before teeing off in the final round for signing an incorrect scorecard the previous day. Jimenez was fourth in the race for Europe’s Ryder Cup team, and the ruling cost him important points.

It also hurts the Masters chances of the world’s 55rd-ranked player (he was ranked 53rd heading into Qatar).

The DQ was called by PGA European Tour senior referee Andy McFee after he studied television coverage of an incident at the 12th hole during the third round.

“I accept it, but I don’t agree with it,” Jimenez said. “In 16 years on the European Tour, nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”

Jimenez admitted his ball moved as he took a practice swing after going over the 12th green Saturday. But he thought the ball then came back to its original position, and when he told playing partners Brian Davis and Peter Hedblom, they agreed and said he should continue without penalty.

After Jimenez signed his scorecard, McFee was made aware of the incident by the television production team covering the event. McFee and Jimenez studied the video for an hour Sunday morning before McFee disqualified Jimenez.

“I’m not calling him a liar at all and I fully accept he thinks it came back to the same position, but I can’t agree with that,” said McFee.

“The movement of the ball was significant (about half a rotation) to the point that I don’t see how it can come back into the original position.”

Tight field: When 84 players made the cut and only five shots separated No. 1 from No. 84 (138 to 143), it set a European Tour record for closest gap between the cutline and the lead. The margin between first and the cutline has been seven shots on nine occasions, most recently at the 2001 French Open.

– Staff and wire reports

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