The Dollars Say Haas Ought to Stay Awhile


Hes an old man to the kids of the regular tour, a youngster to the oldtimers of the Champions Tour. To everyone, though, he is a golfing marvel.
Jay Haas just turned 51. But if ever there was an age that is nothing but a number, this is it. Most men complain that 45 should be the minimum age for the Champions. Haas must believe it should be 55.
People have made a big deal out of 50 and 51 and all that stuff, and I don't feel that it should really be a factor, he said. I can walk 18 holes and I can swing the club.
You know, somebody told me one time, The ball doesn't know your name, it goes right where you hit it, it doesn't matter who you are. If you hit it close, it goes close. It doesn't go closer because you're Tiger or Jack or whoever.
He did it again last week when he finished in a tie for third place playing against the best of the youngsters ' and therefore the best in the world ' in the Target World Challenge. Tiger Woods looked suspiciously like the Tiger of three years ago with the victory. But Haas looked like the Bionic Man with his performance and rounds of 69, 66, 67 and 69.
He might wander off peacefully to the Champions Tour, except its far too profitable to remain one of the regular-tour set. He made $2 million last year ' thats two million! ' even though he failed to win an event. He went to the gate 23 times and made an impressive 20 cuts. Though he didnt get a W, still he finished in the top 10 in eight of the 23 times he teed it up.
If youre wondering why he doesnt move on over to the Champions, consider this: Craig Stadler, the leading money winner on the Champions, won just $2,306,066 ' and thats with five wins, a second and two thirds. Haas made just $300,000 less by playing the regular tour.
Lets face it, a fifth-place finish on the Champions will net you, oh, about $67,000. A fifth-place finish on the PGA Tour will get you, on the average, $180,000. Need we say more? The regular tour is where the money is.
Now, Haas also dipped liberally into the Champions Tour cash. He played three times with the elder gents and picked up $541,921. Oh ' did we mention that he lives in Greenville, S.C.? In Greenville, $541-thou will buy a very nice manse. And thats just the loose change he picked while diddling around with the seniors.
Haas is getting too wealthy to change tours, actually. He thought this year would be the year he would have his retirement parties. But gosh, coupled with the $2.5 million he won in 2003, he just cant afford to leave.
You know, I've enjoyed doing this, he says with a smile. Obviously it's been an unbelievable couple of years here and everything. But I guess I'm not shocked by it, or I haven't really thought in terms of, I don't know however you said it there, just let it ride or whatever.
Jay turned professional way back in 1976 ' thats 28 years ago. In his first 26 years, he made $9.5 million. In the last two, he made $4.5 mil. You think you would change tours if you were him?
I think a couple of years ago I started to play a little bit better, said Haas, and I made a commitment to be committed to every shot. Don't play a shot that you're not - even if it's the wrong club, the wrong idea, whatever - let it go. You know, don't try to steer it, don't try to guide it.
So dont expect any great changes for Haas as to where he will compete this year. I guess I still feel like I can hit the shots, still feel like I can compete with these guys, he said.
I read Colin's (Montgomie's) comments that he can't drive it as good or hit his irons as good or putt as good or chip as good as Tiger and everything, but he just has to outscore him. And I guess that's kind of the mentality that someone like myself has to have.
Its nice to see someone like Jay Haas become wealthy in his middle-age years. And the youngsters probably are saying, Why dont you play with someone your own age? Haas just cant afford it.
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