Haas Opts to Focus on PGA Tour

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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 my career.'

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 better.
 
'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 serious backpedaling.
 
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 by two.
 
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 Leadbetter.
 
'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 lives.
 
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 Takefuji 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 WEEKThe 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 in regulation.
 
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.
 
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