Haas A Player for the Ages

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipHAVEN, Wis. -- At 50, Jay Haas isn't thinking about sending off for his AARP card or wondering about the senior tour. He's too busy whipping the whippersnappers.
 
Haas, who shot a 4-under-par 68 at the PGA Championship on Thursday, is trying to become the oldest player ever to qualify for the Ryder Cup team and the oldest player ever to win a major.
 
He's 10th in the Ryder Cup points, right on the bubble for an automatic berth, and in position to at least dream about supplanting Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA at San Antonio, as the oldest winner of a major.
 
His game is as good as it's ever been as evidenced by his superb opening round that would have been bogey-free if not for a three-putt from 50 feet on the par-3 17th.
 
'I played about as good as I can play from tee to greens,' said Haas, who is competing in his 81st major, the most of anyone who hasn't won one. 'I missed two greens and putted on both of those from the fringe, so I was very, very happy with that.'
 
His first of five birdies came on the par-4 13th, his fourth hole, when he hit a 6-iron to 4 feet.
 
'The pin was in the back left over this knob and you have Lake Michigan to the right and the wind howling. That was my best shot of the day,' Haas said.
 
His 8-foot putt for birdie on No. 16 was followed by his lone bogey, but he recovered with three birdies on the front side with putts from inside 10 feet.
 
Cheerful and congenial have always been his charm, but the spirited St. Louis native is especially easygoing nowadays thanks to a remarkable resurgence over the last year and a half.
 
He put new meaning into 'golden years' when he won more than $2.5 million in 2003, by far the most of his career, and he's contending for a spot on his first Ryder Cup team since 1995.
 
He's been around so long he's even gotten to play with his son, Bill, who was the nation's top-ranked college golfer as a senior at Wake Forest this year before joining his father in the U.S. Open.
 
'Most kids can beat their dads, but I can't beat mine,' Bill Haas said after his father shared the first-round lead at the Open, where they became the second father-son team to make the cut, joining Joe Kirkwood and Joe Kirkwood Jr. in 1948.
 
Jay Haas simply refuses to act his age.
 
He traces his turnaround to a change in attitude and approach last year when he decided his career was in its twilight and he was going to stop to smell the fairways.

'I think I went into 2003 with kind of a 'Hey, this is my last go-around here at 49 and let's just see what happens and have some fun,'' Haas said. 'You hear that all the time, and I don't think that that equates to great golf. (But) for me, I've been very relaxed.
 
'I probably had my best attitude consistently for the last couple of years on the golf course that I've ever had in my career. You know, good play then feeds that good attitude and vice versa,' Haas said. 'So, to have Bill playing in some of these events has been wonderful for me. I'm just having the time of my life.'
 
The only thing missing from his terrific turnaround is a win, but he's not beating himself up over that.
 
'It's difficult to win out here, and I put myself into position a couple of times and haven't pulled it off,' he said. 'Being in the hunt at the U.S. Open was great. I felt like I should have won that tournament or given it a better chance than I did.'
 
He finished tied for ninth, but he isn't looking back.
 
'I can't say, 'Well, I'm disappointed,' or 'I'm not disappointed' or content or not content,' Haas said. 'I guess it's not going to help me whether I feel one way or the other. I just need to go do it.'
 
Haas doesn't fret over his inability to close out a major, where he owns 16 top-10 finishes, second only to Ed Dudley's 19 among players who have never kissed the trophy.
 
He won't have to end the streak to make the Ryder Cup team. A few more rounds like Thursday and he'll get another coveted chance at beating the Europeans.
 
'It's been my goal. I've stated that. I'm sure it's the goal of a lot of guys out here; they just haven't been as vocal about it,' Haas said. 'But I don't go into each round thinking I need to play well because of the Ryder Cup, or if I make a bogey, well, that's going to cost me the Ryder Cup, or if I make a birdie now I'm in good shape.'
 
His view is simple: If he deserves to go, he will.
 
'I certainly can't wish good luck for me or bad luck for anybody else,' Haas said. 'I just have to take care of what I can do. But it's been fun to be able to even consider that, I guess, to just be in the hunt.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA Championship
  • Photo Gallery - Whistling Straits
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Course Tour - Whistling Straits
     
    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

    Getty Images

    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

    Getty Images

    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

    Getty Images

    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.