What they said: Jay Haas

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October 04, 2009
PGA TOUR staff

All transcripts courtesy of ASAP Sports.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Just a couple of notes before we get going. This is your third major championship on the Champions Tour to go along with your two Senior PGAs. Largest check on the Champions Tour, $405,000. 14th career win, and fourth straight year you've won multiple events. You get a spot in next year's Players Championship again. Also, this marks the fourth year in a row that you've won consecutive events, and you've got yourself back in the Charles Schwab Cup race. So, with that, if you could just share your thoughts on your 64 game, and we'll get some questions.

JAY HAAS: Well, I've told several people so far out on the green there that asked me what I think coming into today, and what score did you think it would take and things like that. And what I thought? I got out here and I thought what a nice day this is for Tom Watson. Cool, and breezy and a tough golf course, a tough golf course. Coming off 64s, himself.

That being said, I just felt like playing as hard as I can. I've been playing really, really well. Obviously, played well a couple of weeks ago at Hickory. This week, the first 16 holes, the first round is probably as good as I played today. I bogeyed the last two days, shot 66.

But I was very encouraged to be playing well coming here. This is not the kind of course you want to play when you're not playing well. So that was encouraging coming into this week. There's a part of me that says that's as good a reason as any that I played well. I hit probably my best drive of the week right down the middle. And I hit a 6-iron on the front fringe and I two putted.

Which probably doesn't like a whole lot, but if you stand up there with the bunker to the left and the rough and the trees, and to do that and stay under the hole there and putt it up, almost made the putt, tapped it in. Just got me off to a really good start.

But all day I was right there. I made some very makeable putts on the front nine. And I just felt like I was going to get some more. The way I was hitting it, and the way I felt today, just had a nice calm about me.

Just Tom didn't go nuts behind me and shoot 3 or 4 or 5 under himself, then I had an opportunity. And when I birdied 10, it looked up -- that was really the first time. I hadn't seen many leaderboards, but that was the first time I had really studied it, and I saw he was 11 through the 9th hole, and I was 10. So it made me feel like at least I had a chance. If I played a good, solid back nine, I'd have a chance.

But I didn't have a number in mind. You know, ultimately saying I've got to get to this. I was just trying to shoot at the flags and make birdies whenever I could any hole out there.

But, again, from tee to green, I cannot play better. That was under the conditions and the circumstances in a major tournament on our Championship golf course. That was the best I got.

THE MODERATOR: Let's get your birdies real quick.

JAY HAAS: 3, I hit a 5-iron to about six feet. 4, I hit a 3-wood to the green side bunker and hit it out to about three feet. 10, I hit a gap wedge to about maybe 14 feet. That kind of got me going there. That was a downhill, slippery slider which you can get on every single hole here. Beautiful putt there went right in the middle.

14, I hit a wedge to about six feet, and made that. And 17 I hit a 5-iron to about 15 feet, and that was kind of a slippery slider breaking probably about a foot and a half. And then 18 I hit a 6-iron to about three feet.

Q. How far was your distance on 18??

JAY HAAS: It was 195. It was a little helping wind, right-to-left down. Normally can't hit a 6-iron on par. It was a little downhill, down wind pumped up. I just felt like laying on the first third was going to release back in there. I was going to get a putt underneath the hole.

Actually wasn't trying to get it back to the hole there because I didn't want that putt pin high like I've had a bunch of times out there. But it came off perfectly. Came off the ridge there and rolled down to three feet or just inside.

But I hit the second hole I missed about a four footer for birdie. The 6th hole I hit the pin with a wedge, a gap wedge. Hit behind the hole, and went back and I missed that one. 8, I hit a pitching wedge to six feet and I missed that.

12, I hit the green side bunker on the par 5 and a beautiful bunker shot to about four feet and I missed that one.

So when I say I hit it as good as I could hit it, I really didn't have -- I don't know of any putt outside of a couple of feet for par that I had all day. So that was as comfortable as I've been, you know, playing. I'd.

Like to say it could have been better, but I don't know if it could have been. The putt at 10 was the one I didn't expect to make. The putt at 17, you know, you just don't make many of those. So I guess they all even out.

Q. Considering two weeks ago hitting on the range and you can barely hold the club and hit 100 yards, could you ever see being in contention??

JAY HAAS: No, I was really -- and I still am a little apprehensive about my arm. Is it going to come back? You know, what does the future hold here? Do I need to take time off? Things like that?

But a month ago when I was at Seattle, I thought that my year was maybe done. You know, my doctor at home who is a good friend and I trust him. And he just kept saying, you know, 99% of the time it's just tendinitis, and this is just a very strong case of it. It's going to go away and this that and the other. But when is it going away?

So didn't play Seattle. Went to Pebble Beach, and working on it, and treating it as much as I could and whenever I could, it just wasn't getting better. So I was really frustrated, worried, edgy. I didn't want my job to be taken away from me here for any length of time.

Three weeks ago today I got a shot. It took four or five days before it really kicked in and felt like I could play and not have a lot of pain. I wouldn't say it's a hundred percent. But it's, you know, when I'm playing out there, I don't really notice it. At night sometimes it aches a little bit, but certainly it's light years from where I was a month ago. So, yeah, I didn't think -- I just wanted to play.

The frustrating part was he I really felt like I was swinging well, and hitting the ball well. Playing some really good rounds, and then this happened and that was a lot of negative thoughts. But it's amazing how things can turn around.

Q. Over your career you've played dozens of rounds on Sunday that matter and in contention. You're 55 now. Tom's 60. Describe what it felt like today in those final nine holes when you put together the 31? What does it feel like? It doesn't get old, does it?

JAY HAAS: No, it never gets old. I was talking to Dottie Pepper after the round there we were doing an interview. Even before we came on, I said that's what we play for. That's why we do that. Obviously, the money's great and the titles and all that stuff. But to put it on the line and to do it to hit good shots when it matters most, there's no greater feeling for a golfer on the golf course than to perform when the heat's on and all of that.

To have Tom there to shoot 31. I didn't realize. That's, as they say, you get into the zone. Really didn't know what I was shooting. I added them up seriously in had the scorer's trailer, and, oh, that's a 31, a 64? Oh, wow. I didn't see it. I was just trying to make another birdie and trying to keep the heat on Tom.

Wasn't thinking about, well, I want to get to 11 under, 12 under, whatever it is. I was just trying to hit good shots because I was hitting good shots. It was easy to look at the pin because I felt like I was going to hit a good one.

But there's not a better feeling for me. Under the pressure and I don't think I've ever -- I can't even imagine a better round than I played today under these conditions.

Q. You have a flight booked to Dulles at 9:50 tonight??

JAY HAAS: 9:55, yeah.

Q. It seems you didn't anticipate having a trophy ceremony??

JAY HAAS: No, I did not. We'll make it (laughing). But I think I could have maybe connected out of Baltimore to someplace, but it's a direct flight from Dulles to San Francisco. So I felt like I had plenty of time. Sunday night traffic is okay, right? I'm not driving, so I don't have to get lost.

Q. Winning a major on this tour sort of adds to your substantial record out here since turning 50. Can you talk a little about what that means to you? To have really buffed up your career resume once you turned 50?

JAY HAAS: Yeah, I wish I could have done it on the PGA TOUR as well as I've done it out here. I really don't have an answer for why. I'd like to say I'm playing the best golf of my career. I don't know if that's true or not.

I'd be hard-pressed to go out there right now, and week-in, and week-out, and compete with those guys and finish. I don't know where I'd finish on the money list if I got to play all the tournaments.

But I'm very consistent now. I'm feeling more and more comfortable, I guess, in the situation of leading the tournament or being near the lead. I was kind of surprising myself, actually. On 18 I had a good drive there. I was nervous as I could be, but I felt under control. I felt like I was going to hit a good shot.

I think 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 15, whenever, I probably had more negative and more apprehension in my game for some reason or another. I just didn't trust myself as much as I do now.

Q. Despite having some troubles off that tee, until today, given your action on the tee.

JAY HAAS: Well, I just, you know I've played that hole 12 times. I think maybe that's the second time I've hit the fairway there. And I've hit it -- if I ever missed it left, I don't remember -- I've hit it in the right rough every single time.

The first day I hit it in the rough and I didn't get it in the green. I made bogey. The second day I hit it in the rough, I drew a beautiful lie though and was able to knock it on the green with the hybrid club out of the rough and had a pretty good birdie chance at it.

Yesterday I hit it even farther right. And it's funny because I get up there and I've been driving the ball good all day, and I don't know. Today that was a special feeling to look up and see that one.

Even though it was down the right side, but it kicked straight, and I said well, if that's in the rough, I can't play this hole. That was as good as I got on that hole.

Q. Do you wish you were suited up??

JAY HAAS: No, no, no. I'm glad to be right where I am. You know, it will be exciting for me to be with them. It will be even more special. They'll be coming off a win, you know. It's just I've been looking forward to that week since Freddie called me.

I text him a couple days ago and I said, Can you believe this thing's almost here? And he said, Oh, my gosh. I'm putting out fires everywhere. Questions everywhere, decisions, decisions. Get out here. Hurry.

So I'll be there late tonight, and I'm sure we'll have breakfast in the morning and start talking about things. I haven't seen him in a long time. We talked on the phone and text back and forth.

Yeah, just any time I've been in that room on any of those teams it's a very cool situation for me. You know, I'll be the fly on the wall there and probably won't contribute a whole lot. But justify the moral support and hopefully they'll be holding that trophy at the end of the week. Thank you very much.

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