Fathers Day Treat

By Associated PressJune 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- Only one thing would make Jay Haas happier than winning this week's U.S. Open: seeing his son's name ahead of his on the leaderboard.
'I hope he beats me every time we play,' Haas said Tuesday after playing a practice round with his younger son, Bill. 'I'm his biggest fan.'
Jay and Bill, an All-American at Wake Forest, have played in two PGA Tour events together, but neither tournament was anything close to the magnitude of the U.S. Open. There have been only a handful of father-son duos at the Open, and the Haases are the first in six years.
Jack and Gary Nicklaus played together in 1997 at Congressional. Gary and Wayne Player were both at Pebble Beach in 1982.
'I don't have words to express it, how much fun I'm having watching Bill play here in his first U.S. Open,' Jay said with a smile after finishing a practice round with his son Tuesday.
'I was thinking back, 1974 was my first U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and then I played here at Medinah in '75 as an amateur. Just to think that that much time has gone by, and I'm still playing and he's out there now, it's a thrill of a lifetime.'
For his son, too. Golf is something of a tradition in the Haas family. Jay's uncle is former Masters champion Bob Goalby. His brother, Jerry, is the golf coach at Wake Forest, where Bill just finished his junior year and Jay was a two-time All-American.
Despite those bloodlines, Bill said the game was never forced on him. He and his older brother, Jay Jr., occasionally caddied for their father -- Jay Jr. was on the bag when Jay tied for third at the 1999 PGA Championship -- but basketball was Bill's sport until high school.
'I was shorter than everybody, and wasn't as talented on the basketball court. So golf filled that spot,' said Bill, now 21.
And the more he played, the more he came to appreciate what dear old dad has done. On the PGA Tour since 1977, Jay has won nine tournaments and more than $10 million.
In addition to his third-place finish at Medinah in 1999, he tied for third at the 1995 Masters.
'Even in high school, I realized what he was doing and how tough it is out here,' Bill said. 'But in a couple of years now, I'm going to have to try to qualify to be out here and stay out here. That's my goal, that's what I want to do jobwise.
'Knowing what it takes, even to get out here, brings a whole new appreciation for what he's done.'
Which makes this week so special.
Jay had an automatic exemption to play in this year's Open after finishing tied for 12th last year at Bethpage Black. But Bill didn't find out until last Wednesday that he was coming, when he shared medalist honors at the Rockville, Md., sectional.
'I couldn't wait to play practice rounds with him here, and have him experience a major tournament,' said Jay, whose wife and two of their daughters will head up the family's cheering section. 'To have him out here and experiencing this, it's something he'll never forget.'
Especially when his father lines up treats like he did Tuesday.
Jay had arranged months ago to play one of his practice rounds with defending champion Tiger Woods. And he reminded his son of that just before Bill left for his qualifying event last week, hoping to give him some added incentive.
So there Bill was Tuesday morning, playing with his dad, Woods, Mark O'Meara and Fred Couples. The fivesome played nine holes together before the rain started.
'Just seeing how they interact, it's pretty neat,' Woods said. 'You can see Jay kind of help him on some of the pin locations and how he should play it, and it's pretty special. I wish I had that chance to be able to do that with my father. It's really neat to see that happen.'
While a round with Woods gives Bill a great story, Jay had other reasons for including his son.
It's one thing to watch and learn from him. It's quite another to see it in the world's best golfer.
'Tiger hit countless pitches and chips and putts around the greens, and really focused on what he's doing. That was a good lesson for Bill to learn from the best, what he has to do to prepare himself,' the elder Haas said. 'If the best player does that, then the rest of us ought to follow suit.
'I'm sure Bill was nervous playing with Tiger and I think that was good to experience that today,' Jay added. 'Kind of get over that.'
Bill tees off first Thursday, with his father following about six hours later. While both said they'll be able to keep their minds on their own game while they're playing, the other will be their first thought when they finish.
And unlike most tournaments, Jay can't wait to talk about the round with a fellow competitor.
'He and I talk about rounds over the phone when he's at college ... but you can't visualize it,' Jay said. 'But here, after we're done, we can say, 'What'd you hit at 17? How about that pin?'
'It's just fun to be able to rehash a round with somebody you genuinely would like to beat you.'
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    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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    Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

    PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

    While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

    But then . . .

    “Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

    In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

    She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

    With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

    At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

    Park’s back with a hot putter.

    That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

    “The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

    Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

    “But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

    Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

    Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

    They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

    Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

    “I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

    “She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

    Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

    “I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

    Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

    “When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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    Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

    PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

    It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

    “This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

    Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

    “First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

    Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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    Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

    She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

    That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

    With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

    Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

    Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

    Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

    “I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

    Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

    Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

    “I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

    About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

    “I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

    Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

    While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

    “You never know,” she said.