Haas Arrives at Long Last

By George WhiteMay 30, 2006, 4:00 pm
So maybe Jay Haas has found a home after all. Hes 51 years old and has been eligible for the Champions Tour for almost 18 months, but hes had a problem really being a senior.
 
Until now. Last week he won the first major of his career, the Senior PGA Championship. That, friends, was his third straight Champions Tour victory. Nothing better to snap you suddenly into reality than to reel off three wins back to back to back.
 
Jay Haas' Senior PGA Championship victory was his third straight win.
Haas had a terrible time letting go of the PGA TOUR. And really, you couldnt blame him. After all, he finished 15th on the regular-tour money list at the age of 49, his highest finish since 1982. He won $2.5 million that year, and in 2004 when he was first eligible for the Champions Tour, he was still good enough to grab $2 million out of the regular tour coffers.
 
Consider that you only make about one-third to one-fourth as much money for a similar Champions Tour finish, and you learn very quickly the attraction of staying on the regular tour as long as you can. In 2004, Haas was 27th on the PGA TOUR money list with $2 mil. In 2004, the 27th man on the Champions made only $689,420. The $2 million figure would have been third on the Champions Tour. So it doesnt take a Bill Gates to decide where you need to be.
 
Last year, Haas got a cold dose of reality. Age finally caught up with him. He tried to play the regular tour but he could finish only 151st on the regular-tour money list while playing in 16 events. He did dip a toe into the Champions Tour, playing in 10 events and being voted rookie of the year.
 
This year, it has been mostly about the senior set. He did play four events on the regular tour (he has an exemption for this year thanks to his selection on the 2004 Ryder Cup team), finishing as high as a tie for 22nd at Wachovia. But he says such forays into the land of the youngsters is strictly a some-time thing now. He is ready to start acting his age.
 
Er ' almost. He has entered the Memorial this week, his all-time favorite tournament after the majors. While in Ohio, he will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open. And he will play in the PGA Championship in August.
 
Actually, Haas was searching for a tour that he could play when he was 46. He finished 144th that year, 92nd when he was 47 and 98th when he was 48. But then his game was reborn after a few lessons with putting guru Stan Utley. Maybe, he theorized, he wasnt so bad after all. And he certainly wasnt.

I didn't think I should play as poorly at 45, but I wasn't sure I should play as well as I did at 50, Haas says.
 
So it was just hard to let go. That's all I ever knew. That competition, those courses, those guys that I was competing against. That was what I had known. And so it was just hard to turn my back on it. And playing well. I guess to me, being in contention at Harbortown or the U. S. Open, something like that, the PGA Championship, that was an unbelievable charge. And I didn't know if I would get that same feeling.
 
Now since I've played Champions Tour golf and won a couple events, it's the same to me. If you're coming down the stretch with a chance to win the tournament, it doesn't seem to be any different to me than it was 20 years ago. So it's still golf, it's still low score wins, and you're competing against some quality people. But it's tough to say that's over. But I'm OK with it now. I'm ready to move on.
 
Haas, though, hasnt completely lost his desire to play with the young men. He has a son, Bill, who keeps banging on the door of the PGA TOUR. Jay leaps at the chance to play alongside his son, and that is a feeling that will never change, regardless of how he does on the Champions or the regular tour.
 
That's been the main reason that I've played this year is to just be with Bill, play practice rounds with him and just watch him a little bit, Haas said.
 
It never gets old, and I wish I was 42 instead of 52 and still being able to do that week in and week out with him. But he's a big boy and he's, and he can do it without me, I'm sure. He would probably just as soon do it without me, so. But that doesn't mean I'm going to leave him alone.

Haas, though, is bright enough to know that his days as a true competitor on the regular tour are probably over. Hes bright enough to know that on that tour hes probably just an oddity now, an older guy getting a chance to test himself against the young men. But against men of his generation, the situation is far different.
 
I don't know, I get to the PGA TOUR events and I feel like I cannot make any mistakes, Haas said. I feel like I have to play almost perfectly to be a threat. To even make the cut I really have to play well.
 
I come out here and where there are no cuts normally - I guess I don't feel like I can coast by any means, but it's just a little bit different mindset. I don't know what it is. It's just I feel like I'm outclassed a lot of times if I don't play well at a PGA event, PGA TOUR event, I'm down the road. No questions asked.
 
So he makes a final decision to play the Champions Tour and he wins a Champions Tour major. What do you think about that? If youre Jay Haas, playing with these older gents isnt half bad.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

Getty Images

McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

Getty Images

Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

Getty Images

Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.