Haas leads Mitsubishi Electric Classic after Rd. 1
Busy Saturday ahead with 36 holes scheduled due to bad weather looming Sunday
April 13, 2018
By The Associated Press
- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 on Friday at TPC Sugarloaf. (Courtesy of Masterpress)
DULUTH, Ga. (AP) -- Jay Haas nearly shot his age Friday to take the lead into a 36-hole Saturday finish at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic.
The 64-year-old Haas birdied the final two holes in breezy conditions at TPC Sugarloaf for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke lead over Steve Flesch. Bernhard Langer shot 67, and Gene Sauers and Scott Parel followed at 68.
Facing a forecast of 1 1/2 inches of rain overnight Sunday and the threat of lightning, tournament officials decided to play both the second and final rounds Saturday.
"The guys were saying we've got to play 54, so this gives us that opportunity," Haas said. "It will be a long day."
Haas won the last of his 18 PGA TOUR Champions at the 2016 Toshiba Classic.
"I had a decent year last year, not what I wanted maybe, and then starting off this year I've been pretty poor," Haas said. "Haven't been 100 percent physically, but I'm feeling better."
He birdied all four par-5 holes in a bogey-free round. The nine-time PGA TOUR winner birdied four of the first six holes -- the par-4 first and third and par-5 fourth and sixth. He added a birdie on the par-5 10th and closed with the birdies on the par-4 17th and par-5 18th.
"I hit the ball well, hit a lot of good iron shots," Haas said. "I had four or five of them inside 10 feet. My distance control was really good. And I made some really nice putts and didn't really struggle at all with long putting or anything. ... I made a really nice one here at 18. It was a bonus there. Hit a beautiful 5-iron at 17 to about 3 feet."
Flesch also birdied the final two holes in a bogey-free round.
"I hit it well and made putts," Flesch said. "With the wind today it was a little confusing at times. I played conservatively where I had to and aggressively on a few holes. Birdied the last two to turn a good day into a great day."
The four-time PGA TOUR winner is winless in 21 PGA TOUR Champions starts since turning 50 last May. He was looking forward to the 36-hole day.
"Hey, I'd rather play 36 holes than play in rain," Flesh said. "Some people don't mind rain. I would take 40 mph wind over any rain. So, I'm glad we're playing 36 tomorrow."
Langer started on No. 10 and birdied the first three and five of the first seven. He played the front nine in even par with two birdies and two bogeys.
"It was difficult conditions with the breeze, especially last few holes," Langer said.
The 60-year-old German star is seeking his first victory of the season and 37th on PGA TOUR Champions.
"It's going to be tough," Langer said. "A lot of us are -- we're all old to some extent -- and it's going to be a very long day. This course is very demanding. It's a lot of hills to walk. My knees were sore just now playing."
JUST ANNOUNCED: In anticipation of Sunday's poor weather forecast, 36 holes will be played Saturday at the @MEClassicGolf to determine the champion.— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) April 13, 2018
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Jay Haas, 32-33 – 65 (-7)
• Haas was bogey-free in his 7-under 65, his best score in 15 rounds at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic. Last year, he closed with rounds of 69-67 to rebound from a first-round 75 and finish T22. His best finish at this tournament was third in 2014.
• At the age of 64 years, 4 months and 11 days, Haas is the fourth-oldest player in the field, behind Larry Nelson, Tom Watson and Tom Kite.
• His first-round 65 was just the third time he has broken par in 12 rounds this season. It was his best round since he shot 8-under 63 in the second round of the 2016 Toshiba Classic. His best score last season was a 6-under 66 in the first round of the 3M Championship.
• This marks the 19th time Haas has led/co-led after the first round, and the first time since the 2016 Toshiba Classic. He is 7-for-18 in converting those leads into victories.
• Haas played three times in the PGA TOUR event at TPC Sugarloaf, and his best finish was T9 in 1997.
• Winner of the Charles Schwab Cup in 2006 and 2008, Haas is T14 on the Tour’s all-time wins list with 18.
• Haas is one of five players to win multiple tournaments at age 60 or older. He won the 2014 Greater Hickory Kia Classic at Rock Barn (60 years, 10 months, 17 days), and he became the second-oldest winner in Tour history when he won the 2016 Toshiba Classic (62 years, 10 months, 7 days). In all, 26 tournaments have been won by 19 different players age 60 or older, with Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin leading with three wins each.
First-Round Lead Notes
• The field includes 10 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and three are among the top-10 players after 18 holes: Bernhard Langer (-5, 3rd), Jose Maria Olazabal (-3, T6) and Sandy Lyle (-3, T6).
• This season, a first-round leader/co-leader has won two of the six tournaments. Most recently, Mark Calcavecchia won the Boca Raton Championship in wire-to-wire fashion.
• Miguel Angel Jimenez is the only first-round leader/co-leader to go on to win the Mitsubishi Electric Classic. He led wire-to-wire when he won in 2014.
• Last year, eventual champion Stephen Ames entered the weekend tied for third after shooting a first-round 67.
Steve Flesch, 33-33 – 66 (-6)
• Flesch hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and carded a bogey-free 66, his best score since he shot a 66 in the second round of the 2017 Dominion Energy Charity Classic. In six starts this season, it is the fifth time he has opened with an under-par score, but he only has five rounds under-par in the second or final round.
• Flesch had four top-10s in 10 starts at the PGA TOUR event at TPC Sugarloaf, with his best finish being a tie for third in 1998.
• He has three career top-10s in 21 starts since turning 50 on May 23, 2017. His best finish of the 2018 season was a tie for 19th at the Boca Raton Championship, and he is currently 55th in the Charles Schwab Cup.
Bernhard Langer, 36-31 – 67 (-5)
• Langer’s first-round 67 was his 12th round in the 60s in 15 tries at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic.
• In five starts at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, he has three runner-up finishes (2014, 2015, 2017) and one victory (2013). His worst finish was in 2016 when he opened with a 75 and finished T11.
• Langer’s T9 finish at the Rapiscan Systems Classic was the 151st of his career, which moves him into a tie for seventh in PGA TOUR Champions history. On the season, the four-time Charles Schwab Cup champion has two top-10s and is 12th in the standings.
• Should Langer go on to win, it would be his 12th straight season with a victory, setting a PGA TOUR Champions record. His current streak of 11 consecutive years is tied with Hale Irwin for most all-time.
• This year, Langer was not the leader of the Charles Schwab Cup entering the Masters for the first time since 2011.
• Last week, he made the cut at the Masters for the 25th time and finished T38.
• Savannah, Georgia native Gene Sauers is T4 after carding a first-round 68. He’s coming off a T3 finish at the Rapiscan Systems Classic, his fourth top-10 of the season, and he is currently No. 6 in the Charles Schwab Cup.
• Augusta, Georgia native Scott Parel shot 4-under 68 and is tied for fourth with Sauers. Parel is coming off a T3 finish at the Rapiscan Systems Classic, his second-best finish on PGA TOUR Champions, and is currently No. 25 in the Charles Schwab Cup.
• All five of the tournament’s past champions are in the field: Stephen Ames (-1, T19), Woody Austin (+3, T53), Olin Browne (E, T31), Bernhard Langer (-5, 3rd) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (E, T31).
• Coming off his 19th made cut at the Masters, Vijay Singh is T31 after a first-round 72.
• Jerry Kelly (No. 2) and David Toms (No. 3) are the top players in the Charles Schwab Cup playing this week. Kelly opened with a 1-under 71 and is T19, while Toms is T53 after a 3-over 75.
• In 2017, the 310-yard, par-4 13th hole was the second-easiest par 4 on Tour (3.587 average). On Friday, it played to a 3.615 average, yielding 2 eagles, 31 birdies and just 5 bogeys.
• John Huston withdrew after completing the first round.