Haas strives for first major win

Jay Haas has just about done it all on the American senior golf tour this year.

updated: October 08, 2007 17:44 IST
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Jay Haas has just about done it all on the American senior golf tour this year.

He's won more tournaments, earned more money and had more sub-par rounds than anyone else. He averages the most birdies per 18 holes, owns a tour-best 69.36 scoring average and holds a hefty lead in Charles Schwab Cup points, which could earn him $1 million in bonus money.

About the only thing Haas hasn't done is win a major tournament, a shortcoming he hopes to rectify this week at the Senior Players Championship.

Haas isn't about to declare himself the odds-on favourite to win the $2.6 million event, which begins on Thursday at the Baltimore Country Club. But he can't deny that he's playing some of the best golf of his life.

"I would never say that I feel like I'm the man to beat," Haas said on Wednesday.

"I think that I'm one of a group of guys who, if we play well, will be in contention. But I'm confident and I've been playing well. I've been driving the ball well, my iron game has been pretty good and my putting has been pretty good. Things have been going my way."

It's been like that for two years now. Haas only dabbled in the US Champions Tour in 2004 and 2005, choosing instead to test his luck on the more challenging regular American tour.

But last year he turned his attention toward playing with the over-50 crowd, and ended up becoming the first player since Hale Irwin in 2002 to claim the Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money winner and Schwab Cub champion.

He's made a fine living on the Champions Tour, earning more than $2.4 million last year (plus the $1 million Schwab bonus) and nearly $2.4 million in 2007.

Haas won one major tournament in 2006, the US Senior PGA Championship. In the majors this year he finished tied for ninth in the Senior PGA Championship, tied for fifth in the US Senior Open, tied for fourth in the British Senior Open and tied for 14th in the JELD-WEN Tradition.

He does not expect an easy time of it this weekend. The Senior Players Championship was held from 1990-2006 in Dearborn, so this week marks the first time many of the golfers have seen this 7,003-yard, par-70 course.