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May 20, 2009

Jay Haas


KELLY ELBIN: Jay Haas, ladies and gentlemen, two time and defending Senior PGA Champion joining us at the 70th Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club. Jay, this will be your sixth Senior PGA Championship, you had three Top-10 finishes in 2009 on the Champions Tour, talk a little bit please about the state of your game and coming in here as the defending champion.
JAY HAAS: Well, it's a pleasure to be the defender. The state of my game is not quite as good as it was at this time last year. But I've been fairly close, I guess, just haven't put everything together. I had a couple chances in my mind to win or come pretty close, but haven't done it for whatever reason or another.
But I've had good practice sessions here so far this week, I really like the golf course, I like the way it's set up, I like the way it's playing. And in the past I've had good luck at the PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship. So hopefully this week will hold true and I would love to have a chance coming down the stretch.
KELLY ELBIN: A lot of talk among the guys in terms of being able to get the ball in play here off the tee and obviously keeping the ball below the pin on a lot of holes. Is that kind of your feeling as well?
JAY HAAS: Yeah, I don't think there's any surprises there. The way they have got the course set up right now it's probably, it could not be any better condition-wise. The grass, the firmness of it, the weather, what we're expecting, they probably, they could probably play, make it darn near impossible for us, I think, if they got crazy with the pin placements and sped up the greens a little bit. Right now they're about what all we need speed-wise.
But I think that the greens are the teeth of the golf course, it's not a back breaker in length, but there's a good bit of rough, and if you don't drive it in the fairway, then you're not going to have a great opportunity to get it underneath the hole on the green.
So that's number one priority. You have to have all facets of your game working here. You can't fake it around here, you can't drive it poorly, I don't think for any number of holes and expect to do well here. You just got to, you put the ball in the fairway and take a chance here and there, but if you're not under the hole, you're not going to have a very good opportunity to make a birdie.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. I understand that 16-time club champion Bob Fairchild was advising you about the course. Usually it's the other way around.
JAY HAAS: He told me he was like the 34-time champion. No, just kidding.

Q. That would sound like Bob. But he's a pretty good amateur player, what did he tell you that was helpful?
JAY HAAS: Just a couple little observations. A lot of the things that -- my caddie Tom is from Cleveland and caddied here and he knows the course awfully well too.
And it's funny, Bob, I think play as little bit right-to-left. And I kind of like to play left-to-right with my tee ball. And maybe right-to-left with my irons a little bit. But so it's funny the different perspective that we have on certain holes, certain views of it.
But he didn't tell me a whole lot that I didn't already know or didn't, and Tommy didn't know, there were a couple greens that he talked about certain positions that the ball might break a little oddly, that you might not expect it to move left or move right, whatever. And he just said it's pretty obvious, keep the ball below the hole and putts from the sides of greens, a lot of times like pin high right or left, is really going to break.
And this last couple days I kind of figured that out. I hit a lot of putts today, I spent a lot of time on the greens today, and knowing all that stuff and then putting it to work, you better still hit it well, you know. You can know it like the back of your hand, but if you don't play well and if you're not able to put the ball where you want it, then you're kind of out of luck.
But there's some greens out there that you almost, I mean there's one little quadrant that you can put the ball in and have a decent putt at it. If you don't, then you're in deep trouble.

Q. You said that you had a chance to play well at times this year and win, but haven't. Is there one part of your game that just hasn't come around or kind of a variety of things?
JAY HAAS: One thing or another, probably my iron game has not been as sharp as I would like it to be. Without question if any, if I play well, if I score well, I've putted well. That seems to be the barometer for most players. If we putt well, if we had shot a good score, you can bet we made some putts. And at any level if you watch the guy holding the trophy at the end of the day, he's probably holed a few putts that he maybe wouldn't expect to make, chipped one in, making all your short putts and I think that's just been a little bit holding me back.
My stats don't show that so much, but I think it's because my irons haven't been great. So if I could point to one thing, I would really like to get that a little bit sharper, my iron game.

Q. A little follow-up, you played Media Day, Tommy wasn't here, but now this week he was here, did anything change when you got his second set of eyes as far as the golf course?
JAY HAAS: Definitely. Yeah, he's brought out some really good observations just to certain pins, you can't really shoot at those pins, watch some of the runoffs here and there. There's some greens that it's almost better to be short of the green, short of the pin. And I tell you what, the fairways, I putted on greens much worse than the fairways when I was growing up. So they don't need to be cut too much shorter and they would just cut a cup somewhere and you could play on them on the fairways as greens.
So sometimes what you think is not a great shot turns out to be a pretty good shot, because you're underneath the hole. I've hit some putts from six, eight, ten yards off the green thinking this isn't a bad spot to miss. And then there's others that kind of have a false front where they will roll down, 10, 20, 50 yards down the hill. You obviously don't want that to happen.
So some of those things that I didn't really see at Media Day, didn't really notice, the greens weren't as fast either back then, everything's a little bit speedier right now. So there's probably a couple things that I'm probably going to rely on him much more than I usually do from tee to green.
And then certainly on the greens I have kind of gotten in a mode of kind of going my own way and not thinking, not asking him too much to get confused and blame him when I hit a bad shot or whatever. But I think this week I'll rely on him a heck of a lot more than I normally do.
KELLY ELBIN: You won last year at Oak Hill on a very penal golf course 7-over par. How does this golf course, is there any comparisons you can draw to this layout, the rough, etcetera, to last year?
JAY HAAS: Yeah, I don't think the rough's quite as thick as it was last year. Certainly we have better weather. The greens speed I think is pretty comparable. I think some of these greens are probably more treacherous than Oak Hill's. Oak Hill's golf course is longer than this golf course.
It's going to be interesting to see what the scores end up being. I think they will be there will be individual really good scores during the week, I don't know that collectively one player's going to go nuts here. I would, I couldn't predict a score. I would think somebody would maybe be under par by the end of the week and who knows, maybe a dozen guys will be, but I don't think so. It's not a pushover.
We have had, we have been playing practice here and the pro-ams with the pins pretty much in pretty simple locations and Tommy put some tees down today where he thinks maybe pins might be and I keep going, he's not going to put one there, and so they probably won't put it there until tomorrow. But it's hard to predict. I have not played a tournament here. The last time -- what was the winning score? What did Dave Stockton to know shoot? '96? Anybody know that?

Q. 12-under.
JAY HAAS: 2-over? 12-under? For the week? Come on.
KELLY ELBIN: It was par 72.
JAY HAAS: Well that makes a big difference right there. So take eight away, 4-under. It had to be softer too. I don't know. 4-under? I'd sit right here with you guys and interview whoever comes in and let them come at me.
KELLY ELBIN: Defending champion Jay Haas, thank you very much.
JAY HAAS: Okay. Thank you very much.

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