Haas Funk set for seniors final major

By Associated PressOctober 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
Champions TourTIMONIUM, Md. -- Nothing Jay Haas accomplished during his unspectacular career on the PGA Tour foreshadowed the astonishing success he has experienced playing golf with the 50-and-older crowd.
 
Haas is poised to become the first player on the Champions Tour to finish atop the money list three years in a row. He will tee off Thursday at the Senior Players Championship as the 2008 money-leader with $1,677,626'his take from winning twice and compiling 11 top-10 finishes in 17 tries.
 
Haas has already claimed 12 tournament titles'including two majors'and earned more than $8 million in 4 1/2 years on the Champions Tour. In nearly 30 years on the PGA Tour, he won nine tournament titles, no majors and never closed higher than 13th on the money list.
 
Haas is a different player now, and his only lament is that he didnt retool his game sooner.
 
Later in my career, I tried not to play tentatively, he said. I guess I felt like, when I stand up to a tough shot, it makes me madder if I take a tentative swing and dont take a good shot than if I take a rip at it and dont hit a good shot.
 
There havent been many poor shots this year for Haas, who is closing in on two goals he set before the season: to be the top money-winner and win the Charles Schwab Cup, a points-based competition to determine the top player on the Champions Tour.
 
Im there. Im in position right now, he said. This is a big stretch, but I dont think Im going to hang over a shot and say, Ive got to hit this shot or else Im going to blow the Schwab Cup.
 
But winning the Senior Players Championship, a 72-hole major tournament with the top prize of $390,000, would provide a huge push in his bid for an unprecedented third straight money title.
 
That would be a neat thing to have my name on, with all the great players that have played in the past, he said.
 
Haas finished tied for 17th at last years tournament at the Baltimore Country Club. Loren Roberts won the event and finished first in the Schwab Cup, one notch ahead of Haas.
 
The par-70, 7,037-yard course features wide fairways and well-groomed greens, but only 22 of the 78 golfers broke par last year.
 
Haas, Fred Funk, Eduardo Romero, and Roberts are among the favorites. Longtime veteran Tom Kite, now 58, also has a decent shot.
 
I cant do anything about Jay, or Eduardo, or Fred Funk or Loren Roberts or any of the other great players. I know theyre going to score well, Kite said. Its just up to me to try to score as well as I can, and hopefully that will be good enough to have a chance to win.
 
Kite is having an excellent year, moving up to ninth on the money list after finishing first, 14th, tied for second and second in his last four tournaments. His play on the Champions Tour is merely an extension of his outstanding run on the PGA circuit.
 
Haas, conversely, is still getting used to the concept of playing in the final twosome and cashing winners checks.
 
Not ever having been to the mountain top, this is my chance to do that, Haas said. Not having the success that I would have loved to have on the PGA Tour, now I have this chance to do something Ive never done before. That drives me.
 
So does the concept of winning now, before a new crop of spry 50-year-olds takes aim at winning some of that prize money.
 
There is an end to this. Im 54, he said. I realize the window of opportunity is closing. Maybe not so quickly, but I can see the end here so I want to get it while I can.
 

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    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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    Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

    “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

    “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”