Time for Younger Haas to Pay His Dues

By Associated PressDecember 7, 2004, 5:00 pm
PGA TourLA QUINTA, Calif. -- Bill Haas never imagined playing anywhere but the PGA Tour, and he couldn't hide his frustration after coming up two shots short of a tour card at Q-school.
Moments after signing his scorecard, he was angry with himself and bitter about his immediate future.
He ridiculed his performance, a tie for 43rd among 169 players.
'If I was good enough, I wouldn't have been on the bubble,' he said. 'I'm obviously not ready.'

And he cringed at the thought of having to play on the Nationwide Tour next year.
'There's some really good players on the Nationwide Tour, but it's just not where I want to be,' Haas said. 'I don't want to be on the Nationwide Tour, and I think if I have to play there more than four or five years, I'll quit golf.'
After loading his clubs into the car in the parking lot at PGA West, the 22-year-old son of Jay Haas stared at the pavement as his mother put her arm around his shoulder and whispered encouragement.
What Haas could have used was a heart-to-heart with David Duval.
'I'm sure with how Bill Haas played this summer, and how he is regarded as a player, he feels he should be playing on the PGA Tour,' Duval said Tuesday morning from his home in Denver. 'I felt like that's where I should play. But the path to get there sometimes makes a few turns.'
Eleven years ago, Duval took one of those unexpected turns.
Duval was a can't-miss kid who had the 54-hole lead at the BellSouth Classic as an amateur, an All-American all four years at Georgia Tech who saw Q-school as merely a stop sign on the road to stardom.
Duval was so good that he almost got his card by playing a limited schedule on the Nike Tour - two victories and a third place in just nine starts to miss his card by $2,875.
Then came Q-school in the California desert.
That was when there was a cut after four rounds, and Duval didn't even get past that.
'I played the last 10 holes in 5 under and that was going to be the number,' Duval said. 'I got in front of the computer with everyone else and watched that arrow move. I was at 1 under, and then it moved to 2 under. And I was like, 'I'm out of here.'
'The feeling of not making it ... it's a disaster.'
Haas has received even more attention during his college career, in no small part because his father has done amazing things on the PGA Tour as a 50-year-old - making the Ryder Cup team and Tour Championship - and because the son has impeccable credentials himself.
Bill Haas was an All-American at Wake Forest this year, won the Jack Nicklaus Award and Ben Hogan Award as the top college player and set an NCAA record for lowest stroke average.
He turned pro and tried to get his card by making enough money through sponsor's exemptions.
Haas missed only one cut and didn't do anything spectacular, although Haas showed plenty of grit. When his seven exemptions ran out, he qualified for the Deutsche Bank Championship and was in contention, paired with Tiger Woods in the second-to-last group in the third round, before tying for ninth.
His hopes ended at the Canadian Open, where he finished three shots out of the top 10 and had nowhere else to play. That sent him to the second stage of Q-school, which he passed at tough Black Horse on the Monterey Peninsula. And he battled back after an opening 75 in the final stage at PGA West.
But all that mattered at the end of six rounds was that he did not finish among the top 30 and ties. He will not have membership on the PGA Tour next year, an even bigger blow considering he wanted to play with his father, and the window for that opportunity is closing.
Haas at least has full status on the Nationwide Tour, and he'll figure out soon enough that it's not all bad. But in the moments after Q-school, he already was cooking up plans to reach the big leagues.
'If I can get seven starts (sponsor's exemptions), I'll play on tour,' he said. 'I don't like the Nationwide Tour. I'd much rather play on the PGA Tour.'
Who wouldn't?
Haas played three times on the Nationwide Tour, twice missing the cut. He knows how tough it is out there.
'A lot of players have taken at least a year out there,' Haas said. 'Apparently, that's what I need to do. I've got to pay my dues, which is fine.'
Duval only hopes he makes a full deposit.
After his Q-school flop, Duval focused almost entirely on the Nike Tour and finished eighth on the money list to get his PGA Tour card. The year in the minor leagues served him well. Duval was 11th on the money list as a rookie and was never lower than 10th the next six years as he ascended to No. 1 in the world.
'If I was him, I wouldn't mess around on the PGA Tour,' Duval said. 'Serve your time, if you want to call it that. If he wants to play an event or two when there's not any Nationwide stuff, that's fine. But as good as he is, he might win three times by June if he focuses on that. Or he could finish in the top three on the money list and make $400,000 or $500,000. As a 22-year-old, that's not bad.'
And that might be the most important message of all.
Haas is only 22. His future is no less bright just because he failed his first try at Q-school.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Report: Augusta may lengthen par-4 fifth hole

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:18 am

One of the more difficult holes at Augusta National Golf Club could be adding some teeth in time for the 2019 Masters.

A recent report from the Augusta Chronicle details preliminary site plans from the Augusta Planning and Development Department. Chief among the proposed changes is a lengthening of the par-4 fifth hole, which currently measures 455 yards.

According to the report, a new tee could be constructed across Old Berckmans Road that could lengthen the hole by 20-30 yards. The change would alleviate congestion between the tee and the nearby fourth green and includes plans to curve the road – which has been closed to public traffic since 2015 – around the new fifth tee.

At last year’s Masters, former club chairman Billy Payne highlighted the area as a possible site for minor changes.

“We are always looking at certain holes, certain improvements to the golf course,” Payne said. “We have a great opportunity now in that we now own the Old Berckmans Road. It gives us the ability, as it touches certain holes, it gives us some way to expand or redesign – not redesign, but lengthen some of those holes, should we choose to do so, and all of them are under review.”

Should the new tee be built, it would mark the first club-enacted course changes since six holes were lengthened in 2006. According to the preliminary plans, construction would start on approximately May 1, following this year’s tournament, and would conclude by early November.

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Thomas: Raucus crowds becoming 'completely unacceptable'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 12:53 am

LOS ANGELES – After spending the first two rounds of the Genesis Open caught amid the traveling circus that accompanies tournament host Tiger Woods anytime he tees it up, Justin Thomas relished his third trip around Riviera with fewer bodies – and voices – in the crowd.

Thomas was part of this week’s marquee early-round grouping, playing the first 36 holes alongside Woods and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy suggested that the chaos of a Woods gallery costs the 42-year-old half a shot per round, and it’s a sentiment that Thomas supported after climbing into the top 10 with a third-round 67.

“Yeah, it was pretty wild this first couple days. It was all right for a little bit today, but there at the end it got a little out of hand,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s a part of it now, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t. I wish people didn’t think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots and play.”

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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Thomas enters the final round four shots behind Bubba Watson as he looks to win for the second time this season. While the crowds at Riviera are a fraction of the size encountered two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, Thomas recalled a couple of unfortunate incidents from that event when fans spoke up and snapped mid-swing pictures while he played the first two rounds alongside Jordan Spieth.

“I don’t know - I guess they just think it’s funny,” Thomas said. “It might be funny to them, and obviously people think of it differently and I could just be overreacting. But when people are now starting to time it wrong and get in people’s swings, is just completely unacceptable really.

“We’re out here playing for a lot of money, a lot of points, and a lot of things can happen. And you would just hate to have, hate to see in the future something happen down the line because of something like that.”

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Durant leads Stricker, MAJ into Chubb Classic Sunday

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 12:50 am

NAPLES, Fla. - Joe Durant birdied five of the last eight holes for a 9-under 63 to match Steve Stricker's Saturday finish and take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic.

Durant rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-4 10th with birdies on the next two holes and also birdied Nos. 15-17. He had a 14-under 130 total on TwinEagles' Talon course for a one-stroke lead over Stricker.

''You're going to laugh at me when I tell you this, but it was actually a par I made on my first hole,'' Durant said. ''I pulled my tee shot left, went into a bush and had to take an unplayable, had to drop back and hit an 8-iron about 15 feet and made par and it was kind of like, 'OK, well, maybe the putter is going to work today.'''

Stricker had nine birdies in a bogey-free round.

''I look forward to playing with Steve,'' Durant said. ''He's a class act, one of my buddies out here, and obviously he is playing well and he had a great round today. It will be a shootout tomorrow, no question, but it will be fun.''

The 53-year-old Durant has two PGA Tour Champions victories after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

The 50-year-old Stricker is making his first start of the year on the 50-and-over tour after playing six tournaments last year - a runner-up finish in his debut and three third-places ties but not a victory.

''That's why I'm here, to try to win the golf tournament,'' the 12-time PGA Tour winner said.

He played the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, tying for 31st in the Phoenix Open and tying for 26th at Pebble Beach.

''You can be a little more patient on the big tour because pars sometimes are good scores,'' Stricker said. ''Out here you need to make some birdies and when you see guys running away, that's when you lose your patience, at least I did yesterday.''

Playing alongside John Daly, Stricker birdied three of the last four on the front nine and birdied the last two for a back-nine 31.

''Yesterday, I wasn't very patient and I let a couple slip away that I should have had,'' Stricker said. ''On the par 5s on my second nine yesterday, I walked away from a couple pars, and that was frustrating. So I kind of let that get to me. Today, I was a lot more patient, and I felt it on the greens. When you're patient on the greens, you tend to roll the ball a little bit better, and I rolled a lot of nice putts.''

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez was two strokes back. He birdied three of the last four in a 68 after opening with a 64.

''Tomorrow is going to be a fight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's going to be nice. As long as you are around the lead, one shot behind, one shot ahead. A lot of golf to come. Just play golf, let everything come.''

Lee Janzen (67) was 11 under, and Kevin Sutherland (68) and Scott McCarron (68) were another stroke back. Daly was 8 under after his second 68. Three-time champion Bernhard Langer had a 70 to get to 5 under.

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Watson takes one-shot lead at Riviera

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 11:49 pm

It's an even-numbered year, so we shouldn't be surprised that Bubba Watson is leading at Riviera. Here's how things shake out going into the final round of the Genesis Open:

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-10), Patrick Cantlay (-9), Cameron Smith (-8), Kevin Na (-8), Tony Finau (-8), Graeme McDowell (-8)

What it means: Watson won the Tour's Los Angeles stop in 2014 and 2016, first shooting 64-64 on the weekend to come from eight shots back and beat Dustin Johnson by two strokes, then edging Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott by a stroke two years later. On Saturday, after a Friday night spent playing in a celebrity basketball game that was part of NBA All-Star Weekend (and getting a shot swatted into the stands by 6-foot-8 Tracy McGrady), he eagled the par-5 first hole, hitting a 200-yard approach to 18 inches, and kept his foot on the gas the rest of the way, adding five birdies against one bogey.

Round of the day: Dustin Johnson moved up 45 spots with a 64. Like Watson, he eagled the first hole, then added four birdies to make the turn in 29. His back nine was an exercise in treading water, with eight pars and a birdie, at the par-5 11th.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Best of the rest: Watson's 65 was matched by Cameron Smith, who moved up 12 spots to T-3 by making an eagle and four birdies.

Biggest disappointment: At 49, two-time former U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was just four shots off the lead after 36 holes, but a Saturday 75 dropped him to a tie for 51st. Goosen's round was a matter of slow bleeding, with three bogeys and a birdie on both sides.

Shot of the day: Derek Fathauer eagled the par-4 third hole, holing his approach shot from 120 yards.

Quote of the day: "You've got to know that this golf course is going to make you mess up." - Bubba Watson

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: Although Watson has won twice at Riviera, he hasn't won anywhere since his 2016 victory in L.A. His 2016-17 season finish of 75th in the FedExCup standings was the worst of his career. His closest pursuer, Cantlay, is just one stroke back after closing with a 54-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.