Notes Haas Staying Put
Haas holding his own against the kids
By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
Although Jay Haas figured he would probably make his Champions
Tour debut at the Legends of Golf, the tournament will have to go
on without him.
Haas, who is 50 going on 25, had another top-10 finish at the
MCI Heritage and has crept up to No. 11 in the Ryder Cup standings.
For now, his focus remains on the PGA Tour.
'My major goal this year is to continue to play well enough to
have a chance to do that,' he said of making the Ryder Cup team
for the first time since 1995.
Haas would be the oldest player to qualify for the Ryder Cup if
he keeps this up. Raymond Floyd was 51 in the '93 matches, although
he was a captain's pick.
As for the Champions Tour?
'I'm almost afraid to go there (and) feel like I won't come
back,' he said. 'I still want to do this. It's so much fun for
me. This has probably been one of the more gratifying stretches of
Haas finished third at the Bob Hope Classic, sixth at The
Players Championship and tied for seventh last week at Harbour
Town. He also tied for 17th at the Masters, narrowly missing an
automatic return to Augusta National.
The only thing he hasn't done is win. In fact, his last victory
was in 1993. That's why Haas refuses to say he has never played
'I'm playing very consistently,' said Haas, who has made the
cut in all nine events he has played. 'But I've played
consistently in the '80s and '90s in certain times in my career. So
I can't say this is the best.'
A LITTLE HELP FROM THE FRONT: The greatest charges in PGA Tour
history would not mean as much without the leader doing some
Stewart Cink had the largest comeback at a regular PGA Tour
event Sunday when he erased a nine-shot deficit against Ted Purdy,
then beat him on the fifth playoff hole. Cink had a 64, the best
round of the week. Still, the victory was made possible by Purdy
shooting a 2-over 73.
'Stewart won it, but just as equally, I think I lost the
tournament,' Purdy said.
The greatest comeback of all belongs to Paul Lawrie, who started
the final round at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie 10 shots
behind. Lawrie shot a 67 and won in a three-man playoff after Jean
Van de Velde took a triple bogey on the final hole for a 77.
Jack Burke Jr. shot 1-under 71 and still made up an eight-shot
deficit in the final round to win the '56 Masters, but only because
Ken Venturi shot an 80.
Venturi recovered three years later with back-to-back eagles at
Rancho Park, shooting a 63 in the final round of the Los Angeles
Open to made up an eight-shot deficit against Art Wall and beat him
That leads to this trivia question: Of all the PGA Tour
comebacks from eight strokes or worse, only one involved a leader
who did not shoot over par in the final round.
The answer -- Steve Lowery.
Lowery had an even-par 72 last year in the B.C. Open and
finished one shot behind Craig Stadler, who closed with 63.
TIGER TRAINING: If good friend Mark O'Meara has any influence
on Tiger Woods' swing, it isn't big.
Woods' swing has come under severe scrutiny in recent weeks,
especially after he nearly missed the cut at The Players
Championship and tied for 22nd at the Masters, his worst result as
a professional at Augusta National.
Woods said Tuesday in his monthly newsletter that he has
routinely listened to coaches like Rick Smith, Hank Haney and David
'Ninety percent of the information, I throw out immediately,'
he said. 'Five percent, I try and discard, and 5 percent I retain.
I just take little bits and pieces, and sometimes it works.'
Where does O'Meara fit in?
'He's not my swing coach,' Woods said. 'He's one of my best
friends and is like a big brother to me. And as anyone who has a
big brother will attest, you don't always agree on things.'
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Ernie Els is home in London for three weeks,
resting for a brutal stretch that awaits.
The Big Easy, who finished one shot behind Phil Mickelson at the
Masters, resumes his schedule at the Byron Nelson Classic the
second week of May, then returns to Europe to play Deutsche Bank in
Germany and the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he
Then, he returns to the United States for the Memorial and the
Buick Classic, where he has won twice. His sixth straight
tournament will be the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
NO PIGSKIN: The PGA Tour won't have the NFL to blame if
galleries are smaller on Sunday this fall.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the road Sept. 26 during the 84
Lumber Classic at nearby Nemacolin. The Carolina Panthers also are
on the road when the Greater Greensboro Classic is played Oct. 17.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an open date when the Chrysler
Championship of Tampa comes to town on Oct. 31, and the Atlanta
Falcons also are off Nov. 7 during the final round of the Tour
Championship at East Lake.
The PGA of America wasn't so lucky.
The final day of the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills is Sept. 19,
which coincides with a home game for the Detroit Lions.
DIVOTS: Jim 'Bones' MacKay, the caddie for Phil Mickelson,
became a father five days after his boss won the Masters. MacKay's
wife, Jennifer, gave birth to a boy (Oliver) last Thursday. ...
Make that two teenagers to record top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour
this year. In-Bee Park, 15, finished at 2-under 214 and tied for
eighth at the Takefugi Classic last week in Las Vegas. Park is the
two-time defending U.S. Junior Girls champion. Last month,
14-year-old Michelle Wie finished fourth at the Nabisco
Championship. ... Indian Wells, the shortest (6,478 yards) and
easiest (68.07 scoring average) course on the PGA Tour, is being
replaced in the rotation at the Bob Hope Classic by Tamarisk next
year. It will be the first time since the tournament began in 1960
that Indian Wells was not used.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The Masters is the only tournament this year
where the winner (Phil Mickelson) led the field in ball-striking --
a combination of driving distance, driving accuracy and greens hit
FINAL WORD: 'That split-second moment when you know it's over
is a horrible feeling. It mentally knocks the stuffing out of you a
bit, to be honest.' -- Ernie Els, on hearing the roar from the 18th
green at the Masters indicating that Phil Mickelson made his birdie
putt to win.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
APTV 04-20-04 1556EDT
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but 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 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park
PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.
Laura Davies won the day.
It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.
Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.
Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.
For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.
In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.
“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”
At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.
“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”
Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.
“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.
With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.
“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”
Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.
“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”
She also relished showing certain fans something.
“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.
In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.
Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.
“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.
After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.
“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.
In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal 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 upon returning.
“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”
And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.
Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.
The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?
“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”
And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.
After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.
“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”