BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Jay Haas has been taking pictures his age or higher for the final three years, simply by no means on a stage fairly like Thursday within the U.S. Senior Open.
Haas steadied himself from an up-and-down begin at soggy Saucon Valley and performed a lot youthful than his 68 years down the stretch, posting a 4-under 67 to share the lead with Mark Hensby after the opening spherical.
Haas grew to become the fifth participant in U.S. Senior Open historical past to shoot his age, becoming a member of Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Harold McSpaden and Jerry Barber, who did it 9 instances. Barber was the oldest first-time winner of a significant within the 1961 PGA Championship.
“That is a reasonably good rating to interrupt (your age) on a course like this,” stated Haas, who had shot his age six earlier instances on the PGA Tour Champions, however by no means in a significant.
Haas and Hensby had been a shot forward of Steve Stricker, Rocco Mediate, Paul Broadhurst and Tim Petrovic. Even with the rain that pounded Saucon Valley within the morning and left inexperienced receptive even when it relented, solely 11 gamers managed to interrupt par.
The co-leaders benefited from the later begin due to the regular rain all morning that made it troublesome to maintain golf equipment dry. Paul Goydos had the low rating from the morning wave at 69, prompting the Californian to say, “That is extra rain than we have had in 10 years.”
“Wow, did we ever catch a break immediately,” Stricker stated. “The morning wave, it appeared like their complete wave performed within the rain. … It performed so long as it might play immediately with the smooth situations and the inexperienced actually not rolling out. It was lengthy, however a troublesome problem.”
Defending champion Jim Furyk, who missed the minimize by a shot final week at Brookline within the U.S. Open, opened with a 71. Steve Alker, the main participant on the PGA Tour Champions this yr, had a 72 in his U.S. Senior Open debut.
Hensby and Haas have some latest PGA Tour expertise on their aspect.
Hensby, whose lone PGA Tour victory was the 2004 John Deere Traditional, tied for seventh within the Puerto Rico Open. Haas performed with son Invoice within the Zurich Traditional crew occasion they usually made the minimize.
Haas would not see that as making ready for the hardest of the senior occasions. He was simply having enjoyable together with his son and located a psychological enhance.
“Enjoying with Invoice, it gave me some confidence, a little bit additional confidence,” Haas stated. “However on the similar time, I’m on the sting of claiming that’s sufficient. And if I play too many dangerous rounds in a row, then I’m completed. Possibly that drives me. I don’t need to be completed. So I hold working at it and hold attempting to shoot good scores.”
Haas discovered explicit satisfaction with how effectively cleanly he struck his irons late within the spherical, particularly the final three holes, after dropping a pair of photographs early from the tough.
Considered one of his finest was to the sixteenth and a again proper pin that Haas stuffed to 4 ft to tie Hensby for the lead. He got here up wanting a ridge on the 18th gap and left himself a troublesome putt at birdie and the lead, although he had few complaints.
Even when he missed, it labored out for him. Haas was in deep, moist grass left of the green on the par-5 twelfth, feared he tugged it a little bit and as an alternative the shot caught the slope and funneled right down to about 6 ft for birdie.
Mediate performed bogey-free, which he suspects is the primary time he is completed that in a significant.
Haas first broke his age when he was 65 and shot 64 within the first spherical of the Chubb Traditional in 2019. The latest event was posting a 66 (age 68) three weeks in the past in Iowa on the Principal Charity Traditional.
“He is nonetheless very aggressive,” Stricker stated. “He nonetheless performs lots. He’s a straight driver of the ball, which you must be right here, and he scrambles effectively nonetheless. That’s what you want at a U.S. Open, whether or not it’s on the common tour or the Senior Open.”
Has nonetheless has an extended highway to the end line and an opportunity to shatter the file for the oldest U.S. Senior Open champion. Allen Doyle gained in 2006 two weeks earlier than his 58th birthday.
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