News & Updates
An Interview with 2007 Champion Jay Haas
Newport Beach Country Club
Newport Beach, CA
March 15, 2012
INTERVIEW OF JAY HAAS
DAVE SENKO: Jay, thanks for joining us. Coming into this event, you've had some success here. You've won the event in '07, I believe it was, and you have been off to a great start this year. Although you haven't won, I think you are the only player with three Top‑10 finishes this year. Maybe just talk about your start and what's been going on for you.
JAY HAAS: Well, I played well. I guess that's kind of nice to actually hit the ball well from tee to green. I've done that well for three tournaments now and it's lasted a long time because we've been off. We played three events in two months basically.
So to continue to play well each time I've played has been a lot of fun. I was anxious to get here this week. I've played well here in the past. I've won here. I lost in a playoff. And without question, one of my favorite places to play. Unfortunately I guess we might get some rain here. That's what people are talking about. Hopefully we are going to miss that prediction. I just enjoy being here. I enjoy the golf course. It's a fun place to play and has been good to me in the past. I'm looking forward to it. I'm still hitting it pretty well, and I need to get the ball in the hole a little bit better just like everybody. But putting seems to be the bottom line, the barometer for really low scoring. To win tournaments, guys have to putt well, and I need to improve that part of my game right now.
DAVE SENKO: Questions for Jay?
Q. This tournament hasn't had many repeat winners, one guy did it. You came close with an eight hole playoff?
JAY HAAS: A seven hole playoff with Bernhard, yes.
Q. What makes this course difficult to back up?
JAY HAAS: I think this course lends itself to almost any style of game because it's not a real ball beaters course. It is not overly long, so it allows many more of the players in the hunt. If a guy putts well, there are not a lot of holes where you are hitting long irons into holes. The par‑3s, there are a couple of par‑3s where they are pretty long. But generally speaking there is a lot of short to mid irons into greens. And par‑5s that are somewhat reachable, not just for the longest hitters. So I think that's a big part of it. Iron play is very important here. The greens are fairly small, so if you are playing well from tee to green, if you are getting those opportunities then it becomes a putting contest. I just think it allows more players to be involved in the mix. So in theory you have to beat more players each time you come here as opposed to some events where accuracy is not a big important factor in some of the courses we play. It's about who can hit the most par‑5s in two. That's not the case here. I think more players are in the mix. Does that make any sense?
Q. Jay, talk about your family. How do you go about keeping in touch with your sons throughout the year?
JAY HAAS: We text and we talk. Jay Jr. has been caddying for Bill now for the last six months. If I can't get a hold of one of them, I can usually get a hold of the other. It's fun to see. When I see Bill shoot a round, good, bad, indifferent, I might talk to Jay, or text back and forth with him. I'll look on the computer and you can see if he hit a lot of greens, or did he miss a lot of putts, or did he make a lot of putts, whatever. Just little comments here and there. We will keep in touch that way. You know, like I said, recently we haven't played a lot. So the weeks he's been off, I've been able to see him.
We just did a little thing in Palm Springs up at Toscana Country Club for our teacher Billy Harmon. We were doing a fund raiser over there on Monday. We both were there Monday practicing. And then we played on Tuesday. He is not playing this week in the Transitions, but he used the time for practice sessions. So it was good to see him there.
We just try to get together whenever possible and talk quite a bit. I try not to get too much into his space. I know he is learning the game. I don't really tell him a great deal. At least I don't think I do. I am balancing between being a sports psychologist, dad, and teacher in what I have to say to him. Most of the time I'm trying to give him advice on the mental side and how to handle certain situations that I've encountered in the past. I will explain some of the things that didn't work for me, or did work for me. Or discuss some of the thoughts that he might have.
I thought this would be a difficult year for him. He will have a lot of pressure to perform at the level that he performed at last year. He ended up 7th on the money list. He won the FedEx Cup. Seemingly, everyone he runs into when I am with him, they are asking him about his great shot out of the water. That's all great and wonderful, but after a while, it gets old. Hey, I hit some other good shots, too. Now he has to have to prove that. He has to prove to himself that he has taken a step up the ladder. I just told him, this year there is going to be a lot of pressure on him ‑‑ in his mind, there is going to be a lot of expectations. And other people have the expectations also.
So winning at LA, I don't think it could have happened any better for him to come out early this year, to win a tournament, to feel like he's right back where he was. He didn't have to claw his way back up to where he finished last year.
If he has a good summer, he is right there for a Ryder Cup. It's a long way to go, the Major tournaments have so much at stake for the Ryder Cup. He still has to play very, very well. I think he is pretty confident now, and I think he feels like he belongs where he is. Those things are what I try to talk to him about. Not so much swing theory. He knows how to play golf. He has been out there long enough. He knows how to hit the shots.
Q. What was it like for you to watch him, not only have success, but the way he is doing it?
JAY HAAS: Yes, I have to pinch myself that it happened. The tournament at Eastlake last year was the perfect storm the way it all played out. He made a couple of bogeys and the end, and had to go into a playoff. If he would have won outright, it would have been great, but then he wouldn't have hit the shot out of the water. That wouldn't have happened. Everything just laid out for him magically almost. So to see that happen, I shake my head and wonder did this really just happen? Did he really win that tournament? I was so excited that he won the tournament.
The 10 million dollars is unbelievable, and FedEx is a great sponsor, I just wanted him to win the tournament because I know how hard it is to win tournaments on the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour.
So for him to win there, I think that was a big plus for him. It's just incredible watching and knowing that he is my son. He is just my son. He is a great player, but he is Bill, and he will always be my son.
Q. Has his success inspired you a little bit, given you a second wind or something?
JAY HAAS: Yes and no. A lot of times people have said that in the six or seven or eight years ago when I was playing really well on the PGA TOUR it was about my kids. They were in college at the time. I played a lot when I was home with them, and that might have had something to do with it. I was trying to show them that I could still play, and I was playing more golf, because they were playing more golf. I wanted to play with them, and they wanted to play with me, so I was probably practicing more.
But as it is right now, I know that my window of opportunity is closing pretty rapidly at 58. Not many guys have done much after 60. You look at a handful of guys, Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and a few guys that have taken care of themselves and played really well. Generally speaking that seems to be kind of that glass ceiling. I'm approaching that pretty quickly. I'm practicing harder just because I know that it's coming go to an end pretty quickly.
DAVE SENKO: Thanks, Jay.
JAY HAAS: Thanks for having me in.
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