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9th March 2010

Matt Haines ( Photo Tom Ward)

Matt Haines beat his England and Walker Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood at the 37th hole to win the Spanish Amateur Championship at La Canada.

In a see-saw battle, Kent-based Haines held the lead on seven occasions but needed a birdie-four at the first extra hole to finally shake off his close pal and rival.

It was Haines' first major match play title, having reached the Spanish quarter finals a year ago. But for Fleetwood it was case of déjà vu after his defeat in the final of the New South Wales Amateur a few weeks ago.

Haines (photo © Tom Ward) made an immediate impact in the final with a birdie at the first but he could never shake off a resolute Fleetwood, who, nevertheless, never managed to get his nose in front throughout the two rounds. At lunch, Haines was two up having gone round in four under to Fleetwood's three under par, the latter with an eagle-two at the 16th.

But within three holes of the afternoon they were all square again after Fleetwood birdies at the first and third. The contest continued to see-saw with Haines reeling off 15 successive pars while his Lancastrian friend found four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey. Even when Haines rolled in his first birdie of the afternoon with a three at the 16th, he immediately gave it away with a bogey at the short 17th to leave the tussle level again.

The 36th hole was halved in birdie-threes but a birdie-four at the first extra hole saw Haines home.

His victory means he becomes the fourth Englishman to lift the title in the past five years following the success of Sam Hutsby in 2006 which was followed by successive wins for John Parry and Danny Willett. A year ago, Hutsby was beaten in the final by Dutchman Reinier Saxton.

Fleetwood and Haines will return to Spain next week as England team-mates to defend the European Nations Cup alongside Tom Lewis and Chris Paisley.


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