Notes Haas Looking at Crossroads

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
Jay Haas wanted to keep playing on the PGA Tour until he felt like he couldn't compete, and the 51-year-old now has some serious questions he must ask of himself.
 
He missed the cut in his second major this year at the PGA Championship. He is 125th on the PGA Tour money list, with his only top 10 of the year coming at the Match Play Championship, where he advanced to the third round before he was eliminated by Chris DiMarco.
 
Haas is assured his PGA Tour card for next year having played on the last Ryder Cup team.

``I think I lost my golf energy,'' Haas said last week. ``You can't come out here and go through the motions. These guys are too good. I guess I'm at a crossroads. Right now, I would say I'll play more on the Champions Tour. But if I start to play a little better at the end of the year ... I still like to do this.''
 
Haas had reason to lose some energy, and not only because of his age.
 
Along with some back problems and the distraction of renovating his house, Haas didn't have the same incentives that carried him the last two years. He tried to make the Presidents Cup team in 2003 and the Ryder Cup team last year, and both times came close enough to warrant being a captain's pick.
 
Plus, he didn't get much of a break last year as he took advantage of good play. He took part in four silly-season events at the end of the year, including the Target World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods.
 
``You see that all the time, guys playing a lot in the offseason,'' Haas said. ``I had never really done it before, and I had never really been in that position to do it before. I had to take advantage.''
 
Haas said one thing that probably won't influence his decision is whether his son, Bill, earns his PGA Tour card through the Nationwide Tour.
 
``We've done the father-son thing a bunch of times,'' he said. ``Not that it's lost its luster, but I need to let him do his thing. He knows how to play.''
 
AS THE WORM TURNS
The Presidents Cup got a brief scare last month when officials at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club discovered nematodes -- transparent, microscopic worms -- had infected some of the greens.
 
The Presidents Cup is to be played Sept. 22-25, and the worms could have severely damaged the putting surfaces.
 
``We had never been in better shape,'' said George Burger, general chairman of the Presidents Cup. ``It was surprising, but the minute they saw it, they sent samples out and we knew what it was within two or three days, and we were able to treat it. It was a great catch by the staff. If they hadn't got it, we'd have been in real trouble.''
 
Burger said the 12th and 17th greens have been re-sodded with grass from north of Pittsburgh, and it already has grown in nicely. Other greens were treated with chemicals and are no longer in jeopardy.
 
Burger said he expects the greens to be as good as ever when the matches start.
 
AGING AMERICANS
Five players on the U.S. team at the Presidents Cup are in their 40s. Four Americans were in their 40s at the Ryder Cup last year, with Tiger Woods the only guy in his 20s on both teams.
 
Is the U.S. team growing old? Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman doesn't think so.
 
Lehman says the arrival of so many foreign-born players on the PGA Tour in recent years simply is making it tougher for younger Americans to immediately succeed, whether that means getting a card or finishing in the top 10.
 
``There is less opportunity for our young players, kids coming out of college or just starting out as professionals. There's less spots,'' he said. ``Let's face it, when you have the best players from South Africa and Australia and everywhere else coming here to play, they're awfully good players. So you need to be pretty doggone good to get that spot away from them.''
 
Since the 2000 Presidents Cup, the only player in his 20s besides Woods to play for the United States in either cup was Charles Howell III two years ago in South Africa.
 
FINAL PAIRING
Phil Mickelson became the 10th straight PGA champion to play in the final group, although that's usually the case with every major. The last 15 winners at the Masters have come out of the last pairing. The last seven winners of the U.S. Open were in the last pairing.
 
In fact, the only major champion who did not play in the final group since 2000 was Ben Curtis in the 2003 British Open. He was in the fourth-to-last group.
 
MAKING THE CUT
From Tiger Woods to Bernhard Langer, there were 14 players who made the cut in all four major championships this year. The others were Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Fred Couples, Mark Hensby, Tim Clark, Kenny Perry, Steve Flesch, K.J. Choi and Ian Poulter.
 
That's up from 10 players to make the cut in all four majors last year.
 
Woods, Singh, Mickelson, Choi and Flesch have earned a paycheck in every major over the last two seasons.
 
On the other end of the spectrum, former major champions David Duval, Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel were the only players to miss the cut in all four majors. Duval has not made a cut in a major since he tied for 34th at the 2002 PGA.
 
Of the 14 players who made the cut in all four majors, Woods and Singh had top 10s in all of them. Scott, Perry, Choi and Poulter failed to finish in the top 10 in any of the majors.
 
DIVOTS
Retief Goosen qualified for the PGA of Grand Slam as an alternate, but said Tuesday he was not planning to go to Hawaii for the two-day exhibition Nov. 22-23. That would make Vijay Singh the next alternate. Singh would have been the first alternate until his bogey on the last hole of the PGA Championship. ... Tim Herron learned his week that the twins his wife is carrying will be boys. The due date is Dec. 3. He already has a 3-year-old son named Carson, and Lumpy is struggling with two more boy names. ``Something Irish,'' he said. ... The Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which sponsors the Byron Nelson Championship, raised more than $6.05 million for charity, the fourth time that its annual contribution went over the $6 million mark.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods became the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1973 to finish in the top four in all four majors.
 
FINAL WORD
``Tiger collects them like they're nothing. For the rest of us, it's not that easy.'' -- Steve Elkington on winning majors.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.