CONOVER, N.C. – Jay Haas has won plenty of times on the Champions Tour.
This one may leave quite an impression.
Haas overcame a slow start to shoot a 7-under 65 on Sunday, setting a tournament record while winning his second Greater Hickory Classic by two shots over Russ Cochran and Andy Bean.
Haas, who also won the event in 2005, finished at 18-under 198 at Rock Barn Golf and Spa’s Robert Trent Jones course. His three-day total broke the tournament mark by one shot, set by R.W. Eaks in 2007.
“I didn’t see this coming, certainly not a couple weeks ago,” said Haas, who had been receiving treatment for tendinitis in his right elbow, which kept him off the tour for a month.
“A couple weeks ago, I just didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if my shot was going to work,” he said. “But today, it felt great – no pain at all.”
Cochran and Bean also shot 65 on Sunday, with Hal Sutton (65) and second-round co-leader Nick Price (68) tied for fourth at 15 under.
Haas and Price, who were tied for the lead at 11 under after Saturday’s round, both got off to slow starts Sunday. Haas didn’t get his first birdie until the fifth hole and tacked on a second on No. 7, while Price bogeyed his first two holes to fall two strokes behind.
That opened the door for Cochran, who had earned provisional qualifying status on the Champions Tour at the start of the season, and earned exempt status after a third-place finish at the U.S. Senior Open.
Making just his 11th start, Cochran made four birdies on the front nine, the last two tying him for the lead. He then birdied No. 12 to pull ahead, and tacked on another birdie on No. 13 to go up by two strokes.
“I hit a lot of real good shots,” Cochran said. “I was real happy with the way I played. Unfortunately, I caught a great champion on a good day.”
Haas, who shot a 10-under 62 on Friday, assumed command of the tournament with birdies on five of the last six holes, including four straight between Nos. 13-16.
“The first 12 holes, I played awfully well … but I didn’t have a lot of close shots,” he said. “I really didn’t know what Russ was doing up ahead of me … but I figured that 13 (under) wasn’t going to be good enough. So I was trying to birdie every hole.”
Haas ended a 26-tournament winless streak dating back to last year.
Bean, who began the day among three players tied for third at 9 under, made a late run after two birdies on the front nine. He played a five-hole stretch of the back nine in 3 over, then eagled the par-3 18th to pull even with Cochran.
Jeff Sluman, Mark McNulty and Bob Tway finished tied for sixth, five shots back, after all shot 65 in Sunday’s final round. Fred Funk (70), who led Loren Roberts by 57 points in the Charles Schwab Cup standings entering this week’s tournament, was among eight players tied for 12th at 10 under.