U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Eagle Gives Haas a Boost as He Makes Yet Another Cut
June 29, 2018 | COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.
By Dave Shedloski
Consistency has been a hallmark of Jay Haas’ career, reflected in the record 592 cuts he made in his PGA Tour career. His habit of hanging around has carried over to the PGA Tour Champions overall and to the U.S. Senior Open in particular. The guy is more regular than a 5 o’clock shadow.
So, it’s no surprise to find the 64-year-old on the leader board through two rounds of the 39th U.S. Senior Open after a 1-under-par 69 Friday at The Broadmoor. Thanks to a chip-in eagle at the par-5 ninth, his final hole of the day, Haas completed 36 holes in 1-under 139, just four behind leader Jerry Kelly.
The oldest player in the field to make the cut, Haas advanced to the weekend for the 14th time in as many appearances. He is just one of eight players under par through two rounds on the East Course.
“I didn’t know that,” said the amiable and soft-spoken resident of Greenville, S.C., who has posted five top-10 finishes in the championship, including a tie for third in his debut in 2004. “I missed the cut in the Senior PGA [a major he’s won twice] and that's the second time I missed the cut. … But we don't play tournaments with cuts hardly anymore, so you kind of go to the first tee and [think], if I got it, I got it. Here, it's like you better have it or else you're going to get that early morning flight on Saturday.”
Haas seems able to bring it no matter the venue. It doesn’t hurt that he’s been a terrific driver of the golf ball, always useful in a USGA Open competition. He didn’t have his best driving day on Friday, hitting eight of 14 fairways, but he still has the ability to manage his game well. Thus far, he ranks fourth in the field in total putts with 55, including 27 in the second round.
And he didn’t need the putter at all on the final hole when he found himself in a precarious spot above the hole but knocked the shot in from about 30 feet to give him just one of 10 sub-par rounds on the day.
It was suggested that the master stroke, which Haas gauged an 8 in difficulty, got him in contention.
“I wouldn't say that one shot did,” he countered. “I think playing, shooting 1-under for two rounds is what keeps me in the hunt.”
Earlier this year, in February, Haas endured quite a scare when his son, Bill, a successful player on the PGA Tour who is ranked 89th in the world, was involved in an automobile accident in Los Angeles prior to the Genesis Open, an event Bill won in 2012. The driver of the car Bill was riding in was killed. Jay took a month off as his son recovered from minor injuries and a major trauma.
“He’s a very lucky young man,” Haas said earlier in the week. “Nothing can prepare you for something like that. You just try to move on the best you can.”
Haas won nine times on the PGA Tour and thus far has 18 wins on the PGA Tour Champions, but the highlight of his career was watching Bill win the clinching point for the USA in the final singles match of the 2015 Presidents Cup in Korea. As the captain of the American team that year, Jay was brought to tears by the occasion.
Winning this week wouldn’t replace that epic day, and after the frightening events in Los Angeles, no golf shot holds the same kind of pressure for Haas.
But the chance to win a national championship can’t be dismissed. Haas is pleased to be in the conversation, even if for one more day.
“I’m excited, sure,” he said. “But I need to play a little bit better tee to green. I like the golf course. I'm getting a little bit more acclimated to the distances and feeling a little bit more comfortable with my club selection. I think that's a big key out here. But there's still a long way to go. Good or bad round, you can go one way or the other out here pretty quickly.”
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.