An Interview with: JAY HAAS
KELLY ELBIN: Two time Senior PGA champion Jay Haas in with a 4 under par 67 today in the third round of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Jay's 8 under for the championship through three rounds, currently two shots out of the lead held by Kenny Perry. Jay, nice playing and particularly strong finish there with birdies on 17 and 18.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, I can't honestly can't ever remember making a three on number 18. I played this course a lot of times and can't remember hitting the fairway but about half the times there. So to have a birdie opportunity there was really key.
And after bogeying 16 to make the last two, I hit some probably four of my best shots, tee to green, the drive at 17 and second shot, I don't think I can hit a 3 wood as far as I hit it there and got it into the green. And then do what I did at 18 was pretty special finish.
But it was nice to stay within a few of Kenny. It looks like he's really going to be tough to beat. But glad to get those last couple there. I really, really played well today.
I got a great tip this morning from Billy Harmon over the phone. I just said man I'm kind of struggling and I was on the range with Peter Jacobsen on Wednesday and he was trying help me a little bit and somehow I shot a decent round Thursday, but this morning Billy talked to me about my setup a little bit and I said, what are you doing? And he said, just got done teaching. I said, you got time for one more?
And then it just really helped just kind of get my right shoulder down a little bit at address position. And it just kind of opened things up for me and just kind of went out there and I think I missed maybe one or two fairways and just hit some real quality shots today. So that was a lot of fun.
KELLY ELBIN: Briefly go through your five birdies and the one bogey at 16, please.
JAY HAAS: Birdied number 4. Good drive there and a 3 wood. Again, hit a, crushed a three wood just up in front of the green and pitched it to about six feet and made it.
Then 8, hit two good shots just right and short of the green and hit a lob wedge to about 15 feet and made that.
11, 4 iron and a pitching wedge to about six feet.
16, I missed, I pulled my hybrid club just through the green and chipped that to about 10 feet and missed.
Then 17, really good drive and a 3 wood to about probably 45, 50 feet from the hole and 2 putted that, putted it up to about a foot.
18, then a drive and a 7 iron to about 15 feet. And curled that in the side door.
KELLY ELBIN: What was the distance on the second shot at 18?
JAY HAAS: 175. And I can't usually hit a 7 iron that far, but it was a little downwind and I was pumped up and I was just trying to carry the bunker, which was 167 or something like that, and playing maybe about 160, probably. I felt like if I carried the bunker it would run into the green a little bit and I probably carried it 170 yards or so. So it was about all I could get out of a 7 iron.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.
Q. Was the rain helpful or no affect at all on the course?
JAY HAAS: The course seemed to play about the same as I expected it would. I don't know that it rained so hard to change it very much. I think the greens were pretty comparable to what they have been. It was I don't know. I felt we started played a hole and a half and then stopped and I came back out and I rested well and didn't really think twice about it. We go through that, those things, quite often, I guess and just deal with it. Never really thought about it a whole lot. But the course was not overly saturated by any means.
Q. You were saying yesterday that your back was starting to feel better. Presumably it felt pretty good out there today?
JAY HAAS: About the same as yesterday. They worked on me again in the trailer. Those guys are great. Without them, I wouldn't I don't know what I would have done. But, yeah, I feel it seems to be improving a little bit. Doug in the trailer has been grinding on my back and it almost hurts to touch now where he's been rubbing on it.
But hopefully tomorrow it will feel even better. And I think it's supposed to be a little bit warmer. Hopefully, we have dodged the rain and, but, yeah, it feels much better. I think the adrenaline's helping also.
Q. Do you think you have any sort of home field advantage going into the final round?
JAY HAAS: Not really. Golf is such a different game than playing at your home court or something or with the fans. I don't know. I don't know that it makes a big deal of difference. The course has changed quite a bit, green wise, since I started playing here. It looks the same pretty much from tee to the fairway and things like that, but I feel comfortable being here. I feel comfortable, this is where I grew up, spent my first 22 years here, 23 years. So I feel, again, like I know where I'm going, I know where Ladue Road is and all that stuff. So I don't feel any panic in my arriving at the course or anything like that. If that's home field, then, yes. But other than that, not really.
Q. Did you just describe to Bill your problems or did he see some footage of your swing?
JAY HAAS: I said, you know, that I feel like I'm kind of reverse pivoting a little bit. Kind of lifty in my back swing. And he said, well just maybe I've done this drill where I reach down and touch my right knee at address and then just kind of bring my hand up to the shaft from there. And if you think about it, to reach down to touch your knee, you have to tilt to the right a little bit and that kind of gets me into a kind of a standard position, I guess as opposed to being this way and then when I get high with my right side I feel like I have to get underneath it.
And that was what Peter was trying to help me with on Wednesday. And I wasn't getting it. But I think the setup helps me just it's a pretty minor thing, but it doesn't take much out here for the guys.
So, but, over the phone, he's seen me hit how many thousands of balls, and so it was that was all he said. And it was I just texted him, "Huge help. Thanks."
Q. I hope all of us don't have to pay for that lesson now.
JAY HAAS: Yeah. I may have to pay for it.
Q. Did you see Uncle Bob out there? He was there all the way.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, he walked 18 holes today. That's pretty amazing. 84 years old and.
Q. Did you point at him on 11?
JAY HAAS: I did. I made that putt and I kind of turned around and I had seen him standing back there with my wife Jan and he kind of raised his arm and I raised my putter and I thought right then, I thought he was waving bye to me, like he was leaving, like that was enough for him. And I think he missed 12 and 13. I think he stayed up there, which I would have done the exact same thing.
But, yeah, that was pretty special to have him out there all day.
Q. I was talking to your uncle after the round and he was saying that 18 is just, it's a hell of a hole and he's probably never done that on 18. Talk more about 18 and whatever carryover it is going forward after finishing that way.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, I think that's just I was just trying to get a stroke closer and as close as I could get to Kenny. And I don't think he's going to be backing up much. He's such a long, beautiful ball hitter, this course I think sets up really well for him, there's a lot of little doglegs left that play into his eye a little bit. I think he likes the Zoysia fairways, like I do.
So he will definitely be difficult to catch and I was just trying to stay within two or three or four of him and have somewhat of a chance. But yeah, I don't think I would say my average score on number 18 is probably 4.4 or something like that over the years. Just a par is I made two pars on it prior to today and I was very happy with those pars. And was very fortunate to get a three today.
KELLY ELBIN: What has winning this championship twice meant for you personally as you look at your career?
JAY HAAS: I think the first one at Oak Tree, it just I don't know, it was hard to describe. I wasn't able to win a Major on the PGA TOUR, but to do it out here, I don't know what it would have felt like, because I didn't do it, but it felt awfully special to do it and hold that big trophy and to say Major champion and all that.
It's meant a great deal. Coming back to the Champions Dinner, the past Champions Dinner every year here to get that picture of the guys, Hale and Tom and Jack was here last year and the guys that have won this championship and the PGA Championship, it's nice company to be in. It just makes me feel pretty good.
KELLY ELBIN: Jay Haas, thank you very much.
JAY HAAS: All right. Thank you.
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