2004: Happy Father’s Day for Haas

By Jeff Babineau

Southampton, N.Y.

Jay Haas, whose name could be changed legally to “50-year-old Jay Haas,” was leading the 104th U.S. Open after an opening-round 66 at Shinnecock Hills, and already he was dreaming about finishing second – to his 22-year-old son, Bill.

“He can whip me most any time,” said the elder Haas of his second-oldest son, who graduated in May from Wake Forest University. “I hope he beats me every single time we play . . . including this week.”

Like many sons following their dads into the family business, Bill Haas will embark on a career as a professional golfer, a vocation that officially began the minute his last putt fell Sunday at the Open. He’ll make his PGA Tour debut at this week’s Booz Allen Classic, and play alongside his father at the CVS Charity Classic in Rhode Island, an unofficial two-day event, June 28-29.

Bill Haas made the cut on the number at the Open, shooting 72-73, and he entered the final round tied with his dad at 6-over 216. But Bill Haas struggled in Sunday’s tough conditions, shooting 81 to tie for 40th, and his dad clipped him by 10 shots to climb to a tie for ninth. They became just the second father-son combination to make the cut at the U.S. Open, joining Joe Kirkwood and son, Joe Jr., who accomplished the feat in 1948.

“Just having him here, it’s been an unbelievable day,” Jay Haas said.

Bill enjoyed watching his dad asking in the limelight after seizing the first-day lead (along with Shigeki Maruyama and Angel Cabrera, who finished his round the next morning).

Jay Haas’ 66 tied his low round at the U.S. Open, an event he has played 25 times since 1974.

“I’m proud, but not surprised,” said Bill Haas. “He’s good. He’s the reason I play. I found out that golf is in my blood.”

Jay Haas happens to be playing some of the best golf of his career, making a determined run at earning

a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team that will compete at Oakland Hills in September. He ranks 10th in the point standings, and his play and attitude have earned respect and attention from team captain Hal Sutton.

Asked if this is the best he has ever played, Jay Haas said, “I can’t say it is. I won twice in ’81, twice in ’82. I won tournaments, and I have not done that. Until I win, I won’t say it’s the best I played. It’s probably equal to the most consistent stretch I’ve had.”

Haas says he is happy his sons are following in his footsteps in trying to make a career of golf (oldest son Jay Jr. was the only family member not at Shinnecock, shooting 71-73 and missing the cut by a stroke in a Gateway Tour event in Sunset Beach, N.C.). Golf always has been a big part of the family. Jay’s uncle, Bob Goalby, won the 1968 Masters, and Jay’s wife, Jan, has a brother, Dillard Pruitt, who played the PGA Tour (and now works as a Tour official).

But Jay Haas never pushed his sons into golf. He wanted them to find their own way.

“Golf can be soul searching and ego mangling,” he said. “Jan told the boys, ‘Don’t do it because Dad does it.’ She knows how difficult, painful and lonely it can be. But it gives them joy.”

On Father’s Day, as Jay Haas competed at Shinnecock, four groups in front of his son, it was clear Bill’s odyssey is something that gives his dad great joy, too.

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