An Interview with: Jay Haas
KELLY ELBIN: Jay Haas, who tied with Kenny Perry as the runner up in the 74th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid joining us. Jay shot 70 today in the final round. 9 under par, 275. Jay, thoughts on the round and I guess also in having Kohki Idoki as the 74th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid champion.
JAY HAAS: Right. Yeah, I think Kenny and I got wrapped up into each other a little bit out there on the front nine and almost a two man race for awhile and all of a sudden we stepped all in it on the back nine and a few guys made some runs from behind. And I'm disappointed just looking at these bogeys on my scorecard, 11 and 14, two of the easier holes on the back nine. To make fives there, that was really costly.
I 3 putted 16, but those two ... the 11th hole today was a 7 iron and a lob wedge and 14's a 3 wood and a sand wedge. And I made fives on both of them. So that was really a huge key for me not to having a chance. I wouldn't say I would have birdied the last couple holes if I would have only been two back, but that was very disappointing there.
But all in all, I said I wanted a chance and I had a chance and disappointed that I didn't pull through, but did a lot of good things, birdieing the last couple and that's bitter sweet, I guess. But all in all, it was a pretty good week. I loved being here and I wish I wasn't so disappointed with second place, but I am.
KELLY ELBIN: Were you concerned at all that it might turn into the type of sort of mano a mano that it did with Kenny and someone could come from behind?
JAY HAAS: I wasn't really thinking in those terms, but we both got to have to great starts. I was couple under through five and Kenny was 3 under through five. He was 13, I was 10. The next was 7 or something like that. And a few guys made some birdies and got to 8 and 9, but we were still kind of ahead of those guys. And if you're going to win, you got to play better than we played from tee to green.
But it wasn't really a concern, I guess, just the way it played out and the way it can happen, for sure, but that little stretch in there, Kenny making a double at number 13, that was a tough break for him. And then he hit a couple wayward shots on 16 and 17, but all in all, neither one of us, I guess, played well enough to do what we needed to do.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions for Jay Haas, please.
Q. Can I can you just talk about 11 and what went wrong there.
JAY HAAS: Just a terrible tee shot. I was going to hit 6 iron off the tee and Tommy suggested 7. He thought it was playing fast and the tee was up and I wasn't driving it good enough to really think about hitting driver there. And now looking back on it I wish I would have and made a bogey being aggressive.
And it was the right club off the tee, for sure, I just blocked it over to the right and had kind of a little jumper lie in the rough and just hit it through the green. And didn't hit a very good pitch shot and not a great putt and ended up with five.
But it's pretty simple, the fairways probably 30, 40 yards wide up there and I couldn't hit it with a 7 iron. So that was, I just kind of fell asleep off the tee there. That kind of set it up.
Literally, a 7 iron, it would have been a 90 yard shot from the middle of the fairway. So I would have expected to have about a 10 or 12 footer at worst for a birdie and as it was I had a 15 footer for par. And the tee shot was the whole key to that hole there.
Q. When you look at how the round played out, that has to loom as a critical point.
JAY HAAS: Oh, yeah, just looking at this 3 over in a six hole stretch there, 11 through 16, 16's a pretty good hole, obviously it's a 217 yard par 3 into the wind and all that stuff, but pretty wide green and I played that hole 4 over for the week. So that was a ... it's not that hard of a hole. I'm disappointed with that.
But number 10, that's probably one of the hardest holes on the course. And I hit a beautiful drive and a 7 iron to about 15 feet there and almost made it for birdie. I'm thinking, I birdied 9, one of the harder holes out here, so I was feeling very good about things right there at that point.
And then the bogey at 11. I won't say I just took the wind out of my sails or anything, but it just kind of put a whole another mindset on me. And instead of having a birdie chance or birdie opportunity, making five there was, I probably won't forget that one for awhile.
Q. Regardless of whether you had bogeyed or birdied the 11th hole, I know the club is looking at making some changes on that hole going into 2018. Could you talk about how good a hole or what you think about 11 as it fits into the scheme here.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, I'm not sure, it's a little bit of an awkward tee shot. I think that ... I don't know what to say about it. I played it pretty good this week. I made a couple birdies prior to today so I was 1 under on it overall.
I like the fact that the tee was up there, I don't know how many guys went for it and what the percentage was for guys hitting the green or if there were any eagles or anything like that, but the PGA has a habit of doing that, kind of giving pause to the players and, what do you think, are you going to gamble?
And in my position I didn't think it was the right play. But I don't know what they could do differently there. I'm not a fan of kind of blind shots and if you don't, if you go too far there, your ball kind of disappears, you don't really know what's up there.
Although, playing it a lot, it seems shorter than it used to. It used to always be a 3 wood or 4 wood off the tee and now obviously the tee was up today, but it seems like the fairway's kind of firm, maybe it's a new fairway, the ball's running a little bit more. But it's not a difficult hole. I don't know what they can do differently. Maybe be able to see it a little bit more. Depress the fairway or something like that so you can see what you're doing a little bit more. But generally speaking it's a pretty easy hole, if you hit a shot.
Q. Before the tournament started did you know much about the Japanese golfer who won? The bio is really, really short.
JAY HAAS: About Idoki? No, I don't know if I've seen him this week. I literally, he played a little bit earlier, but I guess I really wasn't looking for him or anything like that. But there were a couple of them I guess that, Murota, is that how you say it? He's been over here, you think he led last year?
KELLY ELBIN: He led 2011 at Valhalla.
JAY HAAS: Valhalla. So we have seen him and everything. But I never seen Idoki hit a shot or anything, so I don't know much about him. But obviously he's a hell of a player. A great round today and he did what he had to do.
Q. Coming into the round, you obviously figure you got to shoot at least two strokes better than Kenny to have a chance. But I guess, as the corollary, did you figure you would have to do better than a 70 to have a chance?
JAY HAAS: I thought ... I thought 11 under. I had the number picked for sure. I thought that would be good enough. Not that Kenny wasn't going to play well, if he shot 69 and was 12 under or more, then more power to him. But I thought that 11 was going to have a good chance to be the number. And it was.
I wasn't thinking so much in those terms, other than just playing hard and trying to get birdie putts and trying to stay aggressive and things like that.
And I was on pace, I was doing what I was supposed to do, 2 under through nine, that was, I was very pleased with that. And I felt like that was right where I needed to be. And it was. Just it wasn't expecting those bogeys on the back.
Q. You went flag hunting there on nine, a beautiful shot. You really made a turn in good fashion. Did you think things might be going your way?
JAY HAAS: Yeah, that was ... I had made a nice par at 7 after driving it in the fairway bunker.
Then 8, I could have reached it maybe with two really good shots and didn't. Didn't make a birdie. But Kenny didn't either.
And then 9 is very awkward drive for me, it just doesn't look right. And I said, but I've got to get up there so I can have a chance to shoot at the flag. I can't, if I lay back with a 3 wood and have a 4 or 5 iron to the green I'm 50 feet to the left, I'm going to be begging for a 2 putt.
And hit one of my best drives of the week and probably my best 7 iron of the week in to about eight feet behind the hole. That was ... yeah, that was a very positive way to make the turn there.
And then beautiful drive at 10 and another good 7 iron to about 15 feet. So, yeah, I felt like I was settling in and right where I was needing to be. But there were other plans.
Q. Not that you're concerned with what other players are doing, but were you at all surprised that some of the positions that Kenny found himself in coming down the stretch?
JAY HAAS: It's a hard game. I know that ... it didn't seem like he was sharp from the beginning. Didn't hit a great drive at 1. But he was doing enough.
And this course is just suits him to a tee, I think. There's a lot of little dogleg lefts and I think that probably looks good to his eye and things like that. But I just don't think he was as sharp as ... if he was, he would have been 14 or 15 under, I think, with no problem.
But no, I wasn't surprised, I guess, it's just hard to lead a tournament and hard to finish it off. We have seen it on the PGA TOUR countless times and I don't know how many 54 hole leaders didn't finish their round out, didn't finish the tournament out. So even for the younger guys it's not easy leading a golf tournament. It's hard to finish. So I'm not surprised at anything that happens, good or bad out here.
Q. In a case like this where you're paired with the leader and you must be measuring yourself against relative to how he's doing, at what point did you look up suddenly at some point and see Idoki's in the lead and where did he come from?
JAY HAAS: Maybe at the 13 or 14 I saw that he was 9 and then and I had a putt to go back to 10 at number 13, the par 3. I had about 10 feet there. Really beautiful shot. One of my best of the day again.
I missed that one and then I think I looked up and he was 10 maybe through 15 or something. And then I bogeyed 14. So now I'm two back of him and two back of Kenny.
But I still thought 10 under might be the number at that stage. I felt like I could make a couple birdies. But, yeah that got our attention for sure, that he was another contender for sure.
I saw that Mark was in at 8 under. Jim Rutledge was in at 6 under. But there were a few guys that were, that had a chance to post something better than 9 under par. And he was the one that did it. But, yeah probably at 13 is when I first noticed that it wasn't just the two of us.
Q. Talk about what this whole week has meant to you playing so close to where you grew up and having a chance to win your third one here and obviously coming up a bit short here?
JAY HAAS: It was a thrill. I tell you, making the birdie at the last hole and the fans really gave me a great ovation. As I was walking off the green, another ovation. And it just really makes me feel great.
I'm disappointed, I felt like I put up a good showing for the hometown crowd, but disappointed with finishing second, if that's possible. But we just don't get that many opportunities to win, at least I don't. And so to not pull it off is disappointing.
But all in all it's been a fabulous week. I tell you, Bellerive has done an outstanding job, I think this is maybe the best Major I've ever played in as far as organization and the club itself and hospitality, the committees, A to Z this has been a home run. It's been an unbelievable week. And glad to be a part of it to the end.
KELLY ELBIN: Jay Haas, tied for second at the Senior PGA Championship. Thank you, Jay.
JAY HAAS: Thank you.
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