Notes Haas Looking at Crossroads

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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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