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May 25, 2008

Jay Haas


KELLY ELBIN: Ladies and gentlemen the 69th Senior PGA Champion, Jay Haas, joining us after a round of 74. 7-over par. This is Jay's second Senior PGA Championship victory in three years. Now the 13th multiple winner of the Senior PGA Championship. And this is the highest winning score plus 7 in relation to par in the 72 hole history of the Senior PGA Championship. Jay, congratulations on surviving this field and Oak Hill.
JAY HAAS: That's kind of how I feel, I guess. That guys were bogeying their way to the house. And I felt pretty uncomfortable on the greens all day long. I was just looking at my stats here, 36 putts yesterday and 34 today. That is not too good. That doesn't win many championships.
But I probably, except for one or two shots on the weekend, probably played as well as I could play. Today I hit some really, really good shots, solid drives. I drove it in the fairway a lot of times, which you have to do out there. Gave myself a lot of opportunities.
But I made it much more difficult than it should have been. I knew I had a three shot lead after the 10th hole. And I hit a nice iron in at 11. And I promptly 3-putted that hole.
And then played like a 19 year old rookie on the 13th hole going up the hill there. I missed the fairway with my lay up shot and hit it over the green, which is a sin, you can't do that there. And made just a pretty ugly six on that hole.
So I just, I shouldn't have let myself get into that position.
But then I hit some really good shots down the stretch. I hit a poor iron at 17 when I could have kind of made it a little bit easier on myself. But I'm glad -- I said on the green I exercised some demons from 1995 there on that 18th hole. That probably made one of my most solid pars I've ever made with two of my best shots under pressure in that -- and that's what I'm leaving here with. With the trophy and the thought of doing that under the gun. I feel pretty happy about that.
KELLY ELBIN: Give us a sense of what it means to have the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy in your possession for the second time in three years.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, that, the first time I won it I was pretty amazed at my emotion and what it meant to me. This one, I thought that one was awfully sweet, but I think this one is definitely better. Just knowing how much fun it was and what it meant to me the last time to do it again on this great golf course is -- to have my name on that trophy again, alongside some of the great champions of the game is something that I can take with me for a long time.
KELLY ELBIN: Let's open it up for questions.

Q. As you were making your way to 18 or playing 18, did you think of 1995?
JAY HAAS: Absolutely. I was -- I kind of had a little chuckle to myself on 18 tee, it was like, well, you've been talking about this, you've been, time to put up or shut up. Let's see how big your, you know what, are. You talked a good game about just getting up there and ripping it and all that stuff and damn if I didn't do it.
But if I could have played that, those two shots in 1995 maybe I wouldn't have played them today. I don't know. I probably would have, we would have won the cup that year or we would have tied it or halved it or whatever.
But, yeah, I was thinking about it. I was thinking that I was trying to get to 18 with a three or four shot lead. So I wouldn't have to think about it. So I could make a five or something and not worry too much about it.
But I think that might make it even sweeter, the fact that I just had a one shot lead. And, you know, when Bernhard hit a pretty good drive down there and it stayed in the first cut, I just felt like he was going to make a three. Because he's played well all year and you just have to expect that.
And I felt like I needed to make a three to win or to force at least to go into a playoff with a four. And I really didn't want to go into a playoff.
To hit that shot, that 6-iron, you know, I can't hit it any better, I don't think. I wanted to stay left. I hit it pretty much the right where I was aiming the ball. I didn't want to miss right and go down where he was and try to have to 2-putt from there.
But, yeah, to answer your question, in about a thousand words, yes, I was definitely thinking of that.

Q. We kind of grilled you all week about your tie in to the club here. Now that it's over and you got the trophy, talk about having your name on the wall out there and the tie in with the Harmons and something else that this win means to you?
JAY HAAS: Right. That might be the neatest thing of all. This morning I literally had not seen that wall by the putting green. I saw Craig earlier in the week and they were talking about the time capsule that they have buried there, I don't know if y'all know about that. But a pretty neat thing that's going to be opened in 2091 or something like that or 2101? And I didn't see the plaques on the wall there. And I saw them this morning. And I tried not to let myself go there and think that, if I could win here, I could get my plaque up there on that wall. But, yeah, that's going to be very sweet.
Craig, almost every day this week if I had a chance to get lunch, if I wasn't playing late, I would get a plate and I would go up in his office and we would sit up there and just talk about nothing. Just talk about just things and laugh. And Billy was there and until Saturday morning. And that's a great memory to have here. This will probably be my last championship here. I don't know when they're going to have the two thousand?
KELLY ELBIN: 2013 PGA Championship.
JAY HAAS: Oh, 59? That will be a stretch.
But yeah, that is an extra, extra special. Icing on the cake.

Q. As topsy turvey as this final round was, people will always remember what happened on 17 yesterday and in retrospect how big was that shot and what will you think of it now?
JAY HAAS: That may be 30 or 40 minute stretch there yesterday, I won't say that it won the tournament for me, but it certainly got me in the mix. I didn't have to shoot 68 today to win.
I was sitting, yesterday, I think we talked about it, I was sitting on the 15th green there, I was five strokes behind and in a stretch of that putt and playing 16 and 17 I'm tied for the lead.
Just to get to that position and then to be only one behind going into today was huge. And I honestly didn't think about that shot until I got to 17. And then today all I was trying to do was put it in the middle of the green and make a four and get the heck out of there. And I couldn't do that.
That was a disappointing shot there. I kind of almost let down because I just wasn't even, I didn't focus really good on that shot, I guess.
But yeah, that shot will, it's a shame I guess it wasn't today. That would have really been something. But it will definitely go down in the Hall of Jay.
Or whatever.

Q. The way things were going, you started to get challengers from behind you, obviously, from farther back, one of them was Greg Norman. You talked earlier this week about you kind of talking him into showing up here. Were you starting to wonder why you did that?
JAY HAAS: Yes, yes, I was. I gave it a fleeting thought. I said, isn't this something, you know, here's a guy, you know, he's going to do what he wants to do, because I said come play, he's not going to come play. But I maybe gave him a little bit of a nudge.
And I'm really glad he was here. And I'm glad he played well for a certain length of time. He probably doesn't think he played well at all.
But for somebody who hasn't played competitively in quite awhile, I thought that was pretty impressive. But, yeah, I was on 13 their facing a 12-footer for or 15-footer downhill for par and I think he was 7-over at the time and I was going 6 if I missed this putt. And I'm thinking, man, we're going to have a good laugh on the first playoff hole, hopefully if I can get there, you know.
Yeah, it was great to see him out. And I hope the people really enjoyed seeing him. I hope he comes out and plays more. I think he's going to play at the British Open the Senior British Open. And he can still go. I watched him on the range and to shoot what he shot here without playing very much, that's pretty impressive.

Q. Bernhard was in here and he said that after the '95 Ryder Cup you were one of the guys who went over and was very classy in defeat and congratulated him. And I just want to know if -- he sort of alluded to something today, but was it nice that a European Ryder Cupper was up there on the final green with you after all we have talked about this week about it?
JAY HAAS: You know, not necessarily, but if it had to be somebody I'm glad it was him. I messed up the last hole, I can go through it if somebody doesn't know about it, but the crowd, everyone was cheering and the Euros came on the green and everything and there was one guy that came up and gave me a hug, not a handshake, a hug. And I didn't really know Bernhard that well at that time. He hadn't played that much over here. He was kind of in a different stratosphere than me. So we didn't play a lot together.
But that was the only guy that really gave, you know, showed compassion, I don't know. But I'll never forget it. He gave me a, just, you know, gave me a hug and he knew maybe that situation. I messed it up a lot worse than he did. He had a four and a half 5-footer or whatever to win the cup. And didn't make it.
But I threw up all over myself there on the 18th hole to not win the cup. And so maybe he knew what I was feeling at that time. Because I guess it was '91, so just two Ryder Cups later.
But I just appreciated that at the moment and I said something to him in the scoring room there that I appreciated his, that gesture. And just his class and professionalism he throughout his career.
I love to watch him compete. To me, he and Hale, they were a perfect match in that Ryder Cup in, watching them play, everyone can learn a lesson from how to compete from those two guys.

Q. Just talk about how tough it was today. The final three some obviously a lot of over par there. Just how tough did the course get today as compared to how tough it was during the week?
JAY HAAS: I just think it's a tough golf course to kind of play with the lead. The greens got, they weren't fast, I didn't think they were out of control, but it was tough to get the ball close to the hole. They had some pretty tough pin placements.
You think about the back nine, number 10 was right over the bunker, 11 it was back left over the bunkers 12 back left up on a shelf. 14, right over the bunker. 16, front right over the bunker. You know, there was just some tough spots to get close to the hole. And for me, I guess I was trying to be aggressive, but I didn't want to be foolish at the same time. So I'm not getting a bunch of tap-ins for birdies by any means.
But it was a tough golf course. Craig Harmon, I gave him grief all week he said the rough was two inches. I don't know when. Maybe in March or something but.
You know, the beginning of last week maybe it was two inches, but I put my hand down in the rough one time and the grass came up to my thumb. You know, it was four or five in spots. So hitting I think it shows here I hit 12 out of 14 fairways and that probably helped me, well it did help me more than anything. Because I didn't hole a lot of putts today.

Q. Talk a little bit about your relationship with Jeff Sluman and also that whole dynamic of playing with him and the hometown guy, who is feeling the pressure he never really has had to deal with before.
JAY HAAS: As I said yesterday, I was really happy for him playing well this week. Because he hasn't in two other tournaments here. And he was maybe on top of his game or in that upper echelon of players when he had those championships here.
But the pressure of playing in your hometown and wanting to do so well for those players or for those fans, that's a pretty great thing. And then when you're playing one of the hardest courses in America, to boot, it can get to you. And I felt -- I won't say I felt bad for Jeff because I'm trying to win the tournament and all that. But I could see him slipping away a little bit. Although if he played a couple good shots on the back nine, he was right there.
He was 8-over kind of early and then all of a sudden he kind of stayed there and made some nice pars and he was hanging in there, made a nice putt at No. 12 going down the hill for par. 13 he had a birdie chance almost made it. 14, a great 2-putt. And then the shot at 15 was kind of broke the camel's back on his round.
But yeah, that's a lot of pressure to play under. And he didn't play that poorly, it's just a hard golf course to just -- he didn't drive it as well as he had been driving it, I don't think. But it was fun being with him, it was fun hearing that crowd when we came down the hill there the tee and people were going "Slu, Slu" and just the fans at Oak Hill and Rochester you know he meant another three or four thousand people out there just coming out to watch the hometown kid.

Q. Just to follow-up, you guys spoke, I saw you speaking on the practice green before and during several times during the course and at the end he taps you on the shoulder. Just talk a little bit about it. Just trying to stay loose?
JAY HAAS: Yeah, I think a lot of initially it was a lot of small talk and all that. Just trying to keep the jitters away. And I did say to him before we played, I said, well, we could be sitting at home watching this and not be nervous at all. And he said, yeah, that wouldn't be so good, would it.
And, but then on the last hole as disappointed as he was, he was unbelievably gracious. And he turned around when I hit the shot into the green and gave me a fist pump, and the drive too. He knew what that meant at the time. And he's a class guy and he's one of my best friends.

Q. I walked I think the first eight holes with you and your group and it seemed to me that you were mostly in the fairway and the other two guys were mostly not in the fairway. And I was wondering what you were able to do to control your nerves or your all of that that you were feeling.
JAY HAAS: I wasn't doing a very good job of controlling my nerves. But I did drive it in a lot of fairways. I missed the fairway at 4 with a pretty good shot. It went through the fairway and ended up making a 6 on that hole.
But I guess I felt like I was, I was playing well, I was disappointed that I was a couple over through that stretch, but I felt like I was on top of things. I was okay.
And then I made a nice birdie at 5. And then I probably my worst shot of the day was at 7. I popped up a 3-wood. But fortunately it was in the fairway. And then I hit another 3-wood, I had 236 to the front and another, I don't know, 10, 246 and I hit this hot 3-wood right up the gap there and had a birdie putt.
But to make four there, that was big. I didn't feel like they were lucky or, damn, I can't shake them, I'm hitting the fairway and they're in the rough. I didn't feel that or anything, because I wasn't, I was thinking mostly about my game.
And I was pretty excited the way I was swinging. I didn't feel like I was struggling. Again, I missed the fairway there at the fourth hole and I think maybe, I don't know where else I missed the fairway on the back nine. Maybe. But oh, 13. The par-5. But it was in the first cut of rough. So it wasn't that big a deal.
So that was my focus at that time. I wasn't frustrated, with them being in the rough or anything like that.

Q. Not you're fault they were in the rough, but you just always seemed to be in the short grass.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, that was a good thing. I was -- it looked like I was playing the best of the three of us. But that is sometimes can bite you if you don't take advantage of it. And I wasn't taking advantage of it. A little concern there, but mostly excited about putting the ball in the fairway and hitting a lot of solid shots.

Q. In relation to the previous question, in your career before have you ever been in the final pairing with the hometown favorite in that pairing as well or was this the first time?
JAY HAAS: I think this is the first time. I can't recall right off the top of my head, because we don't play a lot of Majors in guys hometowns or their home course. You just -- I could maybe go through a list if you gave me the book of tournaments that I've played in. I could maybe come up with one other person, but not off the top of my head, no.
And that was very special for Jeff, I think. I know he's very disappointed. But this is a great, great golf town. This is one of the best. And a great golf course. And they proved it.

Q. I don't know if you were aware of the fact that you had a four shot lead when you made the turn. But can you talk about how maybe that's a little different than a Major Championship compared to a regular event, a regular event you're probably comfortable with a four shot lead?
JAY HAAS: I think in a regular event you're probably thinking about the par-5s you can maybe reach and maybe not thinking about bogeys. You think about how can I make a couple more birdies to put it out of reach.
I did look at the leaderboard. I like to look at the leaderboard. I like to see where I stand and maybe play to middle of green, play with a different mindset if I see I've got a bigger lead, but I didn't foresee 3-putting 11. I hit a good iron in there, pin high to the right, 35 feet or so. And just I left it short, not a very good first putt about three and a half feet and a God awful second putt.
I knew it was going to be tough. I didn't think I could make two more bogeys and win the tournament. I felt like that -- my mindset was I thought that I could make two more birdies somewhere, just give myself an opportunity to make two more birdies and then even if I did make a couple bogeys, 5-over was going to win the tournament. I just felt that.
I didn't feel that those guys were going to come back. They were going to, if they could play even par coming in, 7 was the nearest at the time.
So it's a different mindset though. It's just, there's this a 6 or a 7 waiting on any hole out there if you hit a bad shot.

Q. When you went to bed last night if someone would have told you that you would have shot 74 and won, do you think that number would have held up?
JAY HAAS: No, I would not have. I thought that you know, I thought maybe 70 might have a chance. I didn't know, I didn't think I would have to shoot an unbelievable round, but no. 7-over I didn't think -- there's probably guys that are 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 over, that didn't think it either. And I don't know was the low score today? Anybody break par today?

Q. 68.
JAY HAAS: 68. Did they quit on 17?

Q. It was early.
JAY HAAS: I think that -- you know, I think it was, you were -- that was out there. You could have done it. Obviously. But in the last -- I didn't see a lot of red on the board of those ten guys that were up there and even was the best I saw. Scott got 1-under for awhile and then maybe bogeyed 10 or 11 or something like that.
And that was the last of the red numbers I saw on the left side of that leaderboard.

Q. You've alluded to it, but we really haven't talked about your putting. I think 70 putts over the last two days, including a no putt on 17. Is it a technical issue, is it, was it the greens, with as it the pressure, what do you think it was?
JAY HAAS: I think that -- not the greens. I thought the greens were rolling really fine. Although they're tough to putt. They're pretty quick. They're a good bit of undulation in them.
Technique, I kind of know what I'm doing. I'm kind of raking across the putt and not releasing the putter. And I think that the reason I'm doing that is because I feel like if I release the putter I might go three feet by and now I'm in the throw up zone going back.
So I just -- and in the pressure that the pressure of the tournament leading the tournament, I felt like I was on the lead or within a -- well I got to five behind, but I didn't feel out of it, I guess, at that time. I just felt like I was in the hunt for 72 holes out there.
I guess just the pressure of it got to me. And then you miss a couple or I miss a couple short ones and get tentative. And to me the greens got a little bit slower on the weekend. I think they slowed them up a little bit. The first day I thought they were unbelievably quick. And I actually putted better the first day.
And the second day I didn't putt great, but I made some nice saves here and there. But I think they got a little slower on the weekend and I think that kind of threw me off a little built. I was trying to just throw up a bomb up there somewhere and hopefully it fell in. And they came up short almost every time. So, but I got tentative and I think it's a technique issue I need to figure it out. I don't think I can putt that way and win tournaments. Especially where you go where you got to make a couple birdies.

Q. Outside of this venue is there any other venue that you can think of that you would have wanted to win a Major Championship at?
JAY HAAS: No. Maybe Winged Foot. That has a lot of Harmon history there too. Pebble Beach. The courses that are my favorites, I guess. But no, right at this moment I can't imagine -- Craig, I don't know if you all know Craig Harmon, but he's a special guy, he's been here for 37 years. He started at 25. This is an unbelievable place to be a member and to play. But to have him here too really makes it that much greater.
But the history that is here. I don't know if you guys have been into that room, the historical room or what they're calling it, but it's got film, pictures of all the championships that have been here. Not many clubs have something like that. So, yeah, this -- that flag is going to look good on my wall.

Q. Bernhard talked about a couple of bombs you made. Kind of run through those how they went in and also will you come back to see your plaque put up?
JAY HAAS: Absolutely. If they will have me.
I'll go through my card here. I 3-putted 2 from about 35 feet. I left the first one about five feet short. Two awful putts.
I bogeyed 4. I was on the -- I was in the left rough, right rough, short of the green about 15 feet off the green, which is shaved down pretty good. And I putted from there and I putted to about eight feet and I missed that.
I made about a 15-footer at number 5.
Oh, and I did make -- I'm sorry on number 3, I missed the green to the right at number 3 and the ball came out pretty hot and went by about 30 feet and I made that putt. That was a shock.
Then No. 11, I talked about that one. Hit a 6-iron to about 35 feet, putted three and a half feet and missed it.
13, drove in the first cut, laid up in the high rough to the left, that was not a very good shot. And then I did what you're not supposed to do, I hit it over the green there on my third shot. I was trying to run something up the gap there and make sure I got on the green and chipped down 15 feet, 12, 14, 15 feet short and missed that.
Then 17, I hit a 7-iron in the right short rough by the bunker and pitched that to about 10 feet and missed that one.
KELLY ELBIN: 2006 at Oak Tree, 2008 at Oak Hill. Jay Haas, the 69th Senior PGA Championship champion.
JAY HAAS: Thank you very much.

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