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July 30, 2008

Jay Haas


RAND JERRIS: It is a pleasure to welcome Jay Haas to the interview room this afternoon. Jay's playing in his fifth championship this week here at the Broadmoor.
Jay, in a lot of ways this championship is no different than a lot of other senior events on the tour. You've had quite a bit of success, three Top-10 finishes and four previous appearances. Is there something about the Senior Open that you think brings out the best in your game.
JAY HAAS: I think without question everybody wants to play well in our major events. That's a given. We come to this tournament, and not many events have a press room the size we have here. I don't know, just the feel of everything involved says major.
So we obviously want to play well. I'm no different than anyone else, and just fortunate that I've been playing well the last few years, and you know, I haven't done as well as I'd like in the Senior Open. I think my best chance was probably at Bellerive a few years ago, but I think what's exciting for all of us is the places we're getting to play.
You know, you look at last week, at Troon, you know, Prairie Dunes, just a huge list of great golf courses that as senior players, getting the opportunity to compete at great places like this is pretty special for all of us. What's Hale, 63 years old? I think you could have won a big bet with him that he wouldn't be playing golf at his age or my age, or competitively, anyway.
And it's just a thrill to come to a place like this and a great championship like this.
RAND JERRIS: You've had a pretty good year so far this year, two wins, two second-place finishes. Is this a golf course that sets up well for your game?
JAY HAAS: I tell you, I really like the golf course. It's in wonderful condition. The greens are very difficult. I'm sure everybody's told you that. But I've only played once in the last eight weeks. I played at Boston and didn't play that well. I had a couple weeks off. My daughter got married, and then we had a death in the family. I didn't get to play the last couple weeks.
So I'm a little apprehensive about going out there. Plus, some people have heard that I pulled my hamstring during the wedding, or prior to the wedding, and I did. It's not 100 percent, but I feel like I'm certainly capable of playing well, but I wish that hadn't happened.
But it's just been a different middle of the year here for me than it has been in the past. Again, I haven't played competitively that much lately, but when the bell rings, hopefully I'll be ready?
RAND JERRIS: We'll take some questions, please.

Q. Were you the receiver or the defender in that pass?
JAY HAAS: I was actually the receiver in this. I was a defender prior to that pass, and it was, I don't know, just one of those things. As soon as I did it, in my mind, I knew I'd really screwed it up, and in my heart I was saying maybe it's just cramping, but it was pretty bad, and it turned black and blue.
I couldn't have played -- for three weeks I couldn't have hit a shot really with any kind of -- I tried to play and hit it maybe 200 yards with the driver, and just awful.
So I was pretty concerned about it, and I'm still, again, not 100 percent, but it's not too bad. I made 18 holes yesterday for the first time, playing at home, in a cart; so walking 18 holes is a little bit of an achievement.

Q. Tigeresque now?
JAY HAAS: It's like a hangnail compared to what he had; right?

Q. When is the last time, can you remember, when you had this long of a stretch?
JAY HAAS: During the season, never really. You know, in the off season I'll take time off and all that, but during the season, very rarely. Only one tournament in seven weeks or eight weeks, and I just had never done that. Just hadn't played out that way. I've wanted to play. I've always needed to play.
So it's a different thing for me. But hopefully I'll be fresh from now until the end of the year, and I know the last couple years toward the end of the year, we play -- there's four tournaments leading into the Schwab Cup Championship at the end of the year and I play all three and then the Schwab. So four in a row at the end of the year is kind of no big deal, but I'd like to be a little fresher. So maybe this year I will be by not playing so much in the summertime.

Q. Is this a tough course to walk?
JAY HAAS: You know, not necessarily. I was a little concerned because Castle Pines is the only real of what I have to go by in Colorado golf, and it's very hilly and tough to walk.
You know, this is more altitude, from what I understand, and I really haven't noticed it being that difficult on my breathing and all that stuff. But just the fact of being on my feet and getting back into that, but I thought I was in better shape than I am.
And I don't think it's a huge challenge in that regard. Mostly the sidehill, and they've done a great job with routing the course, so you're not straight up or straight back down.

Q. We do a lot of work in the Super Bowl and high-end sports figures like yourself about just positive role models. My question to you is there something in your personal life that kind of leads into your example in role model and mentoring maybe on the TOUR of how you do what you do, and what that looks like.
JAY HAAS: I'm not sure I understand the question, but when I was growing up my uncle was Bob Golby, and he played the TOUR for 35 years and he was a role model for me. He also pointed out role models to follow, not only in golf but just how people handle themselves on and off the golf course.
And I think that obviously the great players of the game, Arnold and Jack, you know, you look to those guys, and you say that's how I want to handle myself, I guess, on the golf course and off the golf course, and you watch to this day those guys signing autographs and things like that, and they set such a great example.
So I guess the bulk of us try to emulate those great players; Hale; maybe who were a generation ahead of us or a half a generation ahead of us, and try to follow their lead and set a good example for the guys coming up.

Q. Maybe I can go one step further and ask, I know you're a strong man of faith, maybe how that impacts who you are on the tour.
JAY HAAS: Well, it does. I guess I don't wear it on my sleeve so much, but I think family is extremely important, and I think that's a big part of that, of the family, is our faith.
You know, as you get older, as I have gotten older, I think you realize what's important in life, more so than when I was young. It was just about trying to make a name for myself or get a foothold in my career and things like that, but as I've gotten older, I realize that certain things aren't as important.

Q. Who had the wildest golf outfits back in the day? You know, 10, 20 years ago, and what was maybe the craziest thing you've ever worn?
JAY HAAS: Well, I think back in the 60s and 70s, it was Doug Sanders for sure. Doug had, I don't know how many different pairs of shoes, and the colors tangerine and plum and colors that you wouldn't be caught dead in them, but he wore them and wore them well.
But I think back in the late 60s and 70s, there were some pretty strange-looking things that everybody wore. Now I see it kind of coming back, the white belts, bell bottoms, the huge flares and big stripes, and I wore all that stuff. That was what you were supposed to wear. That was what everyone did wear?

Q. Are you going to do it now?
JAY HAAS: I don't think I'm going that way now. I'm going to let the 20-somethings wear those things. The belt buckles look like a stop sign. They need a flashing light on these belt buckles they have.

Q. Jay, with a Champions Tour record such as yours, which is very much a good one, how much would winning a Senior Open mean to you personally?
JAY HAAS: Well, I've been fortunate enough to win the PGA Senior a couple times, and I had never won a major on the PGA TOUR, and so I didn't experience that. I had no idea how that was supposed to feel or how it would feel.
And when I won the first one at Oak Tree, it was just different. You know, it was a different feeling, and I don't know what it is; the history of the tournaments, the Senior PGA and the Senior U.S. Open. The names on those trophies is something that we'd all like to put our names next to.
So winning a U.S. Open, I always thought that was my best chance to win a major, because I was a pretty straight driver. I wasn't a long hitter, so I needed to put the ball in the fairway and I thought that was my best opportunity. I had a fifth place the year I finished as a pro, and just thought that was a stepping stone for many other good finishes there, but never seemed to do it.
So any time you can put your name on a major trophy -- and now, like I said, I walk in here and this press room you could put 30 press rooms as we go on the regular tour inside this one, so that's just kind of an eye-opener. And I think you see that USGA logo on the grandstands, and you know the history of all the USGA Champions; it means something more.
I don't know how I can quantify what it would mean, but certainly any major tournament would be a huge thrill for me.

Q. Jay, with the energy and then the time off, is there a particular part of your game that will be most challenging to refine or recapture, and how will that translate to this golf course?
JAY HAAS: I think just the lack of competition is where I suffer mostly, when I haven't played in a while, just getting into certain situations, and maybe not being as comfortable as playing the last week or the last couple weeks, and kind of saying I had this shot last week, and I didn't really pull it off.
I kind of don't know really what to work on. I need to work on everything really. I'm not totally sharp. I'm not awful. I've been driving the ball pretty well. I'm not as long. I really don't feel like I've kind of turned it loose yet.
Last week I was hitting balls and swung hard at a couple of them, and I kind of felt my leg, so I kind of backed off a little bit. So I think still in the back of my head I'm thinking I might tweak it again. But I think when the adrenaline starts pumping, I'll forget about it. They've been working on it in the trailer. And I'm getting better each day, so I'm not so concerned about the leg.
But just about the lack of competition I think is my drawback right now. Hopefully I can get off to somewhat of a good start and get into the hunt a little bit and kind of play my way into shape come the weekend.
But there's not a lot of time. There's a cut here and all that stuff. So I've got to play well, no doubt about that. This is a tough golf course. You've got to put the ball in the fairway. The greens are difficult. Again, when you're not putting under pressure for a long time, you're just not used to that; and you face your first three-and-a-half footer, left to right, downhill, if you haven't faced that in a while, those can be touchy.
You know, I'm not concerned, but I'm not on the top of my game either, I don't think right now.

Q. So putting, will this golf course expose?
JAY HAAS: I think so. Yeah. Putting, if you're not sharp on the greens, you can look pretty foolish, putting about eight, ten feet. Everybody I think is aware of that. It's not like it's sneaky. But still sometimes you can't believe that you're really downhill, or how hard do I hit it and do you want to leave it short and then have another downhiller and all that.
So you know, you've got to look to the guys who are really, really putting well and have been putting well for quite sometime. Obviously Loren is a factor. He's been playing really well. Nick Price has been driving the ball really well. Is he playing here, as a matter of fact? No? Well, we won't have to worry about Nick then do we. I just know he's one of the top putters and this would be a great course for him.
I played the practice round with Tom Purtzer. He's driving the ball so far it's unbelievable. He's 40, 50, 60 yards by me. It looks like a pitching wedge he's hitting on his drive and he's going a mile. That's important out here, I think. Getting the ball in the air and keeping it going a long way.
You've just got to get it in the hole. This week's not any different. But putting will be a huge key.

Q. We spent some time this morning with Dr. David Cook, top sports psychologist. I was curious if you could talk about what your mental game is and how you prepare and what happens to you when you're in that mode?
JAY HAAS: Well, I think without question, if you're confident, you're probably going to play well. But I'm not of the mind to say that all I have to do is say I'm going to play well and I will. I still have to physically hit the shots and be sharp, be swinging well and things like that.
But I think what I see in younger players when I go, and I used to play on the PGA TOUR, and toward the end of my career, I'd see all the young players really beating themselves up. And I was the same way, just hard on myself. I think that's a good quality in a certain sense, that the guys are driven when they're like that, but you can over do it, for sure.
I think that not panicking as much as I used to, say, during a round or during a tournament is something I do better now than I used to do. You know, again, not beating myself up. I see these younger guys, and they're just, you know, 'I'm awful, I can't do this,' you know, all these negatives, and you need in all the books and all the sports psychologist books that that's not the proper way, and it's not. But that's a hard habit to get out of, because I think we want it so badly when we're younger, trying to get a foothold, trying to establish ourselves; and until you do that, you can't really relax. They say, try not to try. Well, how do you do that? That's kind of an art in itself.
But again, I think just for me I'm just not as hard on myself as I used to be.

Q. Are there any kind of up-and-coming young guns that you see potential and where they're going and how they're playing?
JAY HAAS: On the PGA TOUR. Not seeing them personally or up close, but obviously this Anthony Kim looks pretty bulletproof. He's a long hitter and pretty straight. Looks like he's got a lot of confidence, his attitude; the way he carries himself, I think that's important.
Just off the top of my head, I guess I'm kind of -- my son, Bill, plays out there and I watch what he does, and I really don't watch a whole lot of anything else. I think body language and attitude is so much more important out there than the guys think it is.
Everybody is trying to hit the ball more solidly, putt it better, do all these things, but I think they foresake the mental side of the game more than they should.
But now, everybody's got a trainer, sports psychologist, nutritionist and baby-sitter and all this stuff, and we just didn't have that stuff when we were growing up. So we're all just old school out here, but you know, maybe that's just the way it is. Get somebody to carve letters in your head, you know, things like that. (Laughs).
RAND JERRIS: Jay, thanks for your time and good luck this week.
JAY HAAS: Thanks a lot. Hope to see you again.

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