The Hunt is On at Disney


2005 Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World ResortLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One look at the leaderboard Thursday in the Funai Classic made it abundantly clear who had work on their mind at Disney's sprawling amusement Mecca, with no greater example than Hunter Haas.
Headed to the second stage of qualifying school unless he can quickly change his fortunes, Haas shot a 9-under 63 on the easier Palm Course, his career low on the PGA Tour, to take a one-shot lead in the first round over a group of players who also have a lot riding on this week.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is five back after an opening 4-under 68 on the Palm Course.
Among those at 64 were Ryan Moore, who is trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods to skip Q-school and go straight from college to a job on the PGA Tour. He was joined by Mark Calcavecchia, who feels far less pressure because he's No. 27 on the money list and is trying only to get into the Tour Championship.
On a steamy day across the street from the Magic Kingdom, they all took advantage of calm conditions and being on the Palm course, which played more than two shots easier than the longer, tougher Magnolia.
``It's a grind out here,'' Haas said. ``I wish I'd have a million dollars in the bank and have my card locked up and just be out there playing, trying to make some more money or get a victory. Sometimes, things work out in funny ways. Maybe this is the week.''
Charles Howell III and Nick Price were at 65, two other guys on various bubbles. Howell tied for sixth last week in Las Vegas to move up to No. 30 on the money list, while Price is at No. 120 and might have to use a one-time exemption for career money if the Hall of Famer doesn't keep his card.
Tiger Woods has no worries, although the par 5s gave him fits.
Coming off a victory two weeks ago in the American Express Championship, Woods shot a 68 on the Palm course while struggling on the par 5s, all of which are easily reachable in two shots. One tee shot went into a hazard, another into a bunker, another into the rough, and he never gave himself a good look.
``I butchered the par 5s,'' Woods said.
He'll survive, with nearly $10 million in earning this year.
That isn't the case for Haas, who came into the Funai Classic at No. 166 on the money list with $353,173. He likely will need at least $250,000 over the final three weeks to avoid going to the second stage of Q-school. He is aware of this because of the Q-school application he found in his locker about two months ago.
That's when he started to feel the grind of keeping his card.
``I don't know how to explain what the feeling is like, but it (stinks),'' he said. ``When you're looking at numbers and the money and where you're at, it about that time you're starting to figure it out and do the math and crunch numbers. Then you realize it.''
Moore, the former U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion at UNLV, is playing on sponsor exemptions. He already has earned enough money to be equal to No. 121 on the money list, and he will get his PGA Tour card as long as he finishes the season the equivalent of No. 125 or better.
Moore, who doesn't have a swing coach and oozes confidence, sure doesn't feel it. Asked about the prospects of going to Q-school, the 22-year-old brushed it off.
``I'm not going to have to worry about it, hopefully,'' he said. ``I have signed up for Q-school, and I do have my entry form just in case, and I put that in a long time ago before all this happened. But all I can is go play tomorrow and see what happens.''
It will take until Friday to get a sense of who is playing the best golf because two courses are used. Of the top 15 players on the leaderboard, Robert Damron (65) was the only one who took on the Magnolia course.
Vijay Singh shot a 69 on the Mag, while Retief Goosen had a 71 playing in the group behind him.
Calcavecchia is in good shape on the money list, although he can relate. A year ago, he came to Disney at No. 129 on the money list and secured his card with a tie for sixth.
``It's a different situation for me this year,'' he said. ``I'm playing to get in the Tour Championship instead of keeping my card, so that's a little nicer, and definitely less pressure.''
Players are allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairway the first two rounds. ``Why? Did it rain last night?'' Carlos Franco asked a PGA Tour official. The tour was uncertain early Thursday morning how quick, if at all, Hurricane Wilma would affect the Orlando area. Because the first two rounds are on different courses, they could not change until everyone is on the same course. ... It's just the boys at the home of Tiger Woods this week, where his house guests include Stanford teammates Notah Begay and Jerry Chang, and childhood pal Bryon Bell, who is caddying for Woods this week. Elin Woods has left to visit her sister. Asked whether Woods can cook, Begay replied, ``He can pick up the phone and dial, and that's just as good.'' ... Only 28 players in the 144-man field shot over par.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort
  • Full Coverage - Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort