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March 27, 2003

Jay Haas


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Jay, for joining us for a few minutes. Great round today, 4 under par, 68. I guess the conditions might have changed a little bit while you were out there. Why don't you share that with us and we'll go into some questions.

JAY HAAS: It changed early when we started at 7:50 this morning it was calm, perfect conditions really, and then after about 45 minutes to an hour it started blowing a little bit, but it was -- it wasn't bad, but then it got cloudy and a little cooler and maybe picked up a little bit. We kept expecting rain. I don't think it's going to come, maybe later, but the greens are starting to show it. They're getting firmer, faster, a little brown. I guess we're lucky that there's a little cloud cover or else they'd really be crusty by now.

It wasn't an easy way, wasn't hard. I've seen a lot harder days here, but it wasn't a pushover by any means.

Q. Talk about the success of your year so far and where in the back of your mind is the whole Masters thing? Is it a big deal or do you have it further down? What are you thinking going into this week basically?

JAY HAAS: Well, I know what I have to do. Well, I don't know exactly but I know that I have to be in the Top 10 after this week or in the top 50 World Rankings, but I'm going in with the attitude that if I play well that could happen, and if I don't it may not. You know, I don't think it would ruin my year if I don't. I would sure love to do it. It's one of my goals at the start of the year to get someday again playing the Masters, but I guess I felt if I played well here it would just be -- it would be a good tournament. I don't think I need to play well just solely because of trying to get into Augusta.

But I guess at the start of the year I was 125th plus in the World Rankings, and ended up playing the Match Play tournament, so that was a goal, but I didn't know if that was that achievable of a goal at the time, but quite a few of them are way up there and if they happen, great, but I guess I've gone into this year feeling pretty relaxed, feeling like it's probably my last year out here. I'll play some. I like the fact that I'll have the opportunity to play some out here, but I would think the majority of my golf would be on the Champions Tour next year.

Q. The fact that this goal is achievable now, does that make it any more important?

JAY HAAS: I guess after missing playing there for the last two or three years, to get back again, and I hesitate to say at 49, but just the fact -- even if I was 35 and hadn't played in three or four years, just to get back there again means that I've played well for an extended period of time and warranted my invitation there. Q. Is there something that you are doing better now that you weren't doing the last couple years or maybe three, four years ago?

JAY HAAS: Probably three or four years ago I'm putting much better than I was at that stage, and I've hit the ball better, too. Night and day I think with my putting - and I'm not automatic by any means - and I don't make everything I look at, but I feel much more confident on the greens. I've kind of changed my stroke a couple years ago with the help of Stan Utley, and it's just -- I think as a golfer when we get something that works and we stick with it for an extended period of time, it's so much easier on us than bouncing around from thought to thought, and even if I putt badly for a day or a week or a month, I still feel like I'm doing the right thing and I focus on that when I'm under pressure. Any time you have pressure situations out here, if you're confident in what you're doing - whether it be right or wrong - but if you're confident and if you're decisive in your actions out here, it can only help you.

But I've also driven the ball better. I'm really happy with my equipment now. You know, I've got a set of clubs in my bag I can't remember the last time I felt this good about every club in my bag down the line. I came this week with 14 clubs and that's a good sign. I believe sometimes with three putters and two drivers and a couple wedges, that's not good. I like to go with just the bare minimum.

Q. Pretty much everyone accepts the fact that in athletics as you get older you accept a deterioration of skills. Have you had to fight that and did you fight some fountain of youth in the last --

JAY HAAS: Not necessarily. I've worked out more. Everybody talks about that now with Tiger and David Duval and everybody seemingly -- you can't get a seat in the fitness trailer anymore. Everybody does it or most everyone, young and old, and I think -- to me it would be easy for the young guys to do it, but when I was young I didn't just because I felt like I didn't need to, but just with the standard of play that's seemingly elevated every year and every week and what Tiger and the other guys have put out there for us, I think we all believe that that certainly can only help exercising and being more fit. I guess I'm looking six or eight years down the road still trying to be competitive on the Champions Tour, and I felt like I couldn't just six years from now start doing it. I needed to build into that. In a way, I guess by doing that I've been thinking about next year, but I feel great. I think my skills have deteriorated some, but I was never a long hitter and I was never an unbelievable ball striker, I was never an unbelievable putter. I just was a good player in a lot of different parts of my game, so I don't think that I've rejuvenated everything only I feel good and I've worked at it and I want to. My drive is still there, my excitement about the game is still there.

Q. But you say sort of the swingboard with a looking ahead to the Champions Tour and that was as a result of this year?

JAY HAAS: I think so. I mean, I wasn't playing that well maybe in 2000, my worst year ever out here, and I didn't like that. I didn't like the feeling that I had. I mean, I didn't like playing. I didn't like going to the tournaments. I just was -- if I missed it, that's okay, I didn't want to go. I didn't like that feeling. This is all I've known, this is all I've ever done, and I kiddingly say I've made a list of things I could do other than play and it was zero. There's nothing on the list. I'm not qualified for anything. To make the money that I've made over the course of my career, you know, that's certainly nice, but we all say that's not the only reason we do it, but just to be in that locker room and see the best players in the world and compete against them, I wanted to do that longer than right then. I wanted to continue on, so that's my goal, I guess, do it as long as I can.

Q. Do you anticipate having some tough decisions to make next year as to where you're going to play, whether it's on this Tour or that Tour?

JAY HAAS: I would think that the majority of play would be on the Champions Tour, but already I've made enough money that being in the top 125 to be in this event, which four or five years ago I would have said who cares, I hate this course, but I'm learning maybe a little bit to play it a little bit better. You know, there are certainly events that I would love to continue to play in, but I don't know. I don't think I would play exclusively out here, but I think you talk to some of the guys who have had an opportunity to do both and they wish maybe they would have played more regular Tour, but I don't know. There's been plenty of golfers that have records that make mine look sick, and they haven't done it. When you look at Raymond Floyd, he won when he was 50 on both tours. Jack continued to play well on both tours. Hale, I think could still compete out here with the top players. I don't know what I am going to do. I guess if I've played this well for the whole year I think might differently, but it's a nice problem or nice dilemma to have.

Q. Was one of the goals to win this year? Is that realistic?

JAY HAAS: That's been one of my goals since 1993. I think every year I come out that's a goal. I want to get into some of these all-star games, these top 50s and top 40s and that stuff, so that was one of them.

Q. How would you characterize your history here in this tournament?

JAY HAAS: Pretty poor. I think I've made had one Top 10, maybe two. That might be stretching it. For a long time I didn't play very well at all here, and I've -- here and there I've done okay, but I don't know what it is. I mean, what an event. This is the best, I think. You can't do enough for us here. It's our Championship, the course is always in beautiful condition. Why wouldn't you like being here. I love being here, I'm just frustrated that I don't play better.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your birdies and bogies. Start on 10.

JAY HAAS: I hit a 6-iron to about eight feet, made that.

12 I hit a sand wedge to three feet.

15 I bogged, I hit a fat 7-iron from the middle of the fairway ten yards short of the green, didn't get up and down.

16 I hit a 4-iron just over the green a yard or so, probably my best shot of the day. It hit on the downslope and ran through the green, chipped that to about four feet and made that.

On 18 I hit a good drive and a 7-iron to about 12 feet, made that.

6 I got a little lucky. I kind of pushed the shot and hit short and right of the green and kind of bounced up. The pin is right there on a really tough spot, and it came up about eight feet short and I made that.

I made about a 15-foot putt at No. 8 to save par.

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

JAY HAAS: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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