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March 29, 2003

Jay Haas


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jay, for joining us for a few minutes. Great round again today, wonderful position for tomorrow, 11 under par, 205. Just talk about your day.

JAY HAAS: Well, it was another beautiful day, good scoring day. The greens stayed fairly soft. I started off a little shaky, had long two-putts at 1, 4 and 5 and made about a ten-footer at 2, but after that I started to play very well, hit a lot of good shots, had a real nice stretch right in the middle of the round, and overall I played about like I did on Thursday, not quite -- didn't drive it as good but hit a lot of solid shots, good shots under pressure, and I feel -- I felt real comfortable out there.

Q. It took us a while to figure it out, but Tiger was repeatedly referred to a guy named Bird, Bird, Bird, Bird, which we had not heard. How long that has that been hung on you?

JAY HAAS: Bruce Lietzke and Bill Rogers put that on me 20 years ago, Jay Bird, but a lot of the guys will just shorten that to Bird.

Q. Obviously you played well this year and nearly won at Palm Springs at the Hope. You know, guys kid you about your age. Do they really or is there a respect, do you feel that this guy has been there and done it?

JAY HAAS: I think a little bit of both. I get some grief from some of my friends.

Q. What exactly do they say about your age?

JAY HAAS: They just tease me, I'm in the locker room reading the newspaper on with my glasses on. They just called me old man, go away and all that stuff, but nothing -- just make some jokes about it. Hey, I'm thrilled. If I wasn't play well, they wouldn't be talking to me probably.

Q. You played Adam Scott in the quarterfinals?

JAY HAAS: In the quarters, yes.

Q. Does it (inaudible) you you're playing a guy who's younger than your son?

JAY HAAS: That kind of hit home for me. He was 22, my oldest son turned 22 about two weeks after that happened. Yeah, I didn't foresee that as I was out here grinding away in my 20s.

Q. Jay, you're not the only veteran atop the leader board this week. Fred Couples and Corey Pavin, also. What's your explanation for the success for some of the more experienced guys here this week?

JAY HAAS: You know, I have no explanation. Last year you had all the first-time winners, this year none so far and a lot of the older guys are playing well. Coincidence. I don't think there's any reason. On this golf course you would think experience is a big factor here, and it is, but there's a lot of young guys up out there, too, and middle-aged guy. To me I've played here 20 times probably and this is the best I've played by far. I had one other good tournament here where I had kind of a chance to win and another way where I played good the last day and maybe moved to the top ten, but other than that you would think as many times as I've played here I would have it cold. I don't know, it's just a tough golf course, I think. It just so happens that some of the older guys are hitting it and doing well this week.

Q. What did you think when they were kicking around the idea of a major champions' Tour for that black-hole gap even though you weren't supposedly eligible? What were your thoughts on that?

JAY HAAS: I guess I thought that -- they were talking about the magic age of 45 or something like that or maybe lowering the senior Tour age or something like that, but I guess I felt like if a guy was competitive at 44, which a lot of players are out here, why is 45 the number or why is 50 the number? It doesn't really matter, but I wasn't crazy about the idea obviously. At 47 or 48 I kind of waited my turn and bided my time to get to the Champions Tour. I didn't think it was -- I guess it probably would have hurt. Obviously it would have killed the Senior Tour. You know, the guys that are competitive out here in their 40s, if I was 42, 43, whatever, and competitive and had a chance to win, Nick Price, Scott Hoch, Loren Roberts, these guys who have played well, I wouldn't want to play anywhere else. This is the ultimate, so why would you want to go and play an exhibition-type. I just wasn't for it.

Q. What does that mean when you turn 50? I know Raymond Floyd had a lot of thoughts in his mind, should I play with the guys out here on the big Tour or the guys that I knew. Obviously if you play like this you can play this Tour. Would you change the Champions Tour?

JAY HAAS: You know, a lot of people have asked me what will I do next year, and I don't really know. I would think I'd play the majority of any golf on the Champions Tour. I guess it remains to be seen how this whole year plays out. Right now I'm playing very well, but six months from now I might be struggling and saying I can't wait until I can get out there with the old guys. I just don't know what I'll do. I know that Raymond played some on both, Jack has played some. I think it's kind of once you've gone over to that side, it's kind of hard to come back sometimes and remain competitive if you only play six tournaments, eight tournaments, it's kind of hard to feel like you're making any headway out here.

Q. In the age thing, do you notice your age at all in length, in standing over a putt, concentration or anything or do you just feel you're the same golfer?

JAY HAAS: I think it evolved so slowly that I don't really think so much that I can't make this putt because it's a tough putt and I'm 49 and I'm shaking. I don't think that way. I don't, no. I don't feel any different, I guess, than I did ten years ago, 15 years ago. I'm hitting it longer just because of technology, I think. I'm in good shape and everything, but if I was still using a 43-inch wooden headed driver with a steel shaft I'd be 25 yards shorter than I am right now probably.

Q. Jay, can you talk a little bit about first of all, if you're able to keep this going tomorrow and win this tournament where this would rank for you in your career. Secondly, can you talk about what your goals were entering? Were your goals essentially to kind of ready yourself for the Champions Tour and press on from there?

JAY HAAS: I guess my goals that I had were I wanted to get a tenth win. Every year for the last ten years that's one of my goals is to win a tournament.

First of all, I wanted to remain exempt, to have that option next year to play both tours. I want to get into these all-star games at the end of the year and throughout the course of the year, and all those kind of go hand in hand. If I play well those things will come true. Where this would rank, I guess it would be my biggest win just because of -- you would have to say this would be a pretty big upset against the talent that's out here today. You know, I guess I'm trying to think about my first tee shot tomorrow. Hopefully if I can remain in the moment and do that, then that will be most beneficial to me and not think about what if.

Q. Jay, how much do you think about the second shot at PGA West, getting wet with a chance to win?

JAY HAAS: You know, every time I hit a good 4-iron now I think, Jesus, why didn't I have that three months ago or whatever. I don't dwell on it. I don't feel like -- it wasn't devastating. I played so well all that week, never once thought I was going to hit anything but a real good shot on that shot. Inside if I'd have felt bad and felt really nervous and just unsure of myself and everything, then I would have been more disappointed that I didn't allow myself to let it happen. I just caught it a hair heavy. If the pin was back 25 yards and I had the same yardage and it had hit shorter on the green and rolled back to the pin, it was just unfortunate the pin was there.

Q. Getting back on the horse so quickly, is there any question that experience will help you getting back in the vibe so fast?

JAY HAAS: I think so. You always hear the guys on TV talking about he hasn't been there for a while and this guy has been there. I totally agree with that. I think you get a little immune to it sometimes. I certainly am not but I feel more comfortable had I not been playing well all year.

Q. I suppose a variation of that, how confident do you feel about being able to win at 49 compared to when you were 39 or 29? What's that confidence level now?

JAY HAAS: You know, I guess I feel like I'm capable. I came within a swing or a shot or two at the Bob hope, and if I'd had a steady diet of missing cuts and losing every tournament by 20, 30 strokes then I wouldn't be very confident. I'm certainly not overconfident, but I just feel about the way I'm playing and a lot of the good things that are happening to me. I'm putting very well. Just as a golfer, no matter what age, I feel good about my game.

Q. Jay, have you checked to see where Tiger is in the scores to see how far back he is?

JAY HAAS: I look at the score board all the time. I don't agree with not looking at the score board. I don't understand that. We were laughing the other day, could you imagine Bobby Knight or somebody not looking at what the score is at the end of the game. Should we hole it, should we not? I don't know what the score is. I don't agree with that. I like seeing my name up there. I've seen his name. I see six under par. I'm sure he's not too scared by me being up there, but what can you do? There's no defense in golf and I've just got to go out and play my game. I don't think I'm going to play any different if he was ten behind, five behind, one behind, two ahead, I'm just going to try to play as good as I can.

Q. Just to follow up, with the weather being as bad as it's supposed to be tomorrow, how does that affect and is the lead a little more tenuous than it is even normally here?

JAY HAAS: I have not ever seen a pattern in that, when it's good weather does it help the leader; bad weather, does it help the leader. I think the only thing that helps you or hurts you is how you play. If you play well in bad weather that can be a real bonus, but you play well at the Bob Hope in 80-degree weather with no wind you can shoot 62 or 63. I can't change what the weather is going to be, I just have to deal with it. I can't think, well, this is helpful, this is hurtful. I try to be as positive as I can. I will not say to myself tomorrow, geez, I wish it was nicer weather because you just can't. What can you do? You can wish all you want.

Q. When you say your sons, do you give them a shot? Do they give you shots? What's the bet?

JAY HAAS: We don't play a lot of head-to-head stuff. We go out and play. I guess when we play I'm in more the teaching mode. Every now and then I say I'll play these last six holes for dinner or whatever it might be. I just so enjoy watching them play and seeing -- I always tell them that they've way exceeded my expectations in golf, what they've accomplished so far, so it's just a charge for me. We don't ever have any real head-to-head battles. I'm sure they're trying to beat me a lot more than I'm trying to beat them. I love when they beat me. I want them to get comfortable doing that. I figure if they can handle me then they can play pretty good.

Q. You talked about how good it is that guys tease you and so forth, that they're talking to you and you're playing well. Was it hard a couple years ago when you're not playing well and your friends were beginning to leave or weren't here anymore?

JAY HAAS: I won't say it's because the friends were -- some of my acquaintances were moving on. I don't think it's easy any time you don't play well out here. It can make for a long week, a long year when you're not playing well, and it's not fun and I think that's helped me play better the last couple years. I don't think that feeling when I'm not playing well, so I work a little harder at it.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jay, for joining us.

End of FastScripts....

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