2014 U.S. Senior Open

Wednesday, July 9

Press Conference

Jay Haas

Jerry Haas

An Interview with

MIKE TROSTEL: All right. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the 35th U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National. Joined now by Jay and Jerry Haas. Jay playing in his 11th U.S. Senior Open, 9 Top-10s on the previous ten U.S. Opens, including a tie for 3rd in 2004. Jerry playing in his first U.S. Senior Open, just turned 50 last September. They will be the 8th set of brothers to compete in the same U.S. Senior Open together, the first since Lanny and Bobby Watkins in 2009. Jay, let's start with you. You've had some success here at Oak Tree. Won the 2006 Senior PGA Championship here. Played in 1988 as well in the PGA Championship. Just talk a little bit about your memories of the course and what you saw. You said you played a little bit earlier today, what you saw out there.

JAY HAAS: Lot of the same from what I remember in the past. Very difficult golf course. The wind can be a huge factor out here. Yesterday we had a little bit of an opposite breeze than what we are supposed to be during the tournament so lot of holes played a little bit differently. I think the rough this year is a little bit thicker, little bit more consistent than it was in '06 for the PGA six, seven weeks later in the year. The bermuda rough I think is a little bit up. But pretty much the same as I remembered. You got to drive the ball really well here. The greens are very small, small targets to shoot to but the course is in magnificent condition. I don't think I've seen it any better. It's supposed to be very hot. I don't think the scores will be great. They'll be some good scores during the week but overall what I remember was pretty much the same. It's hard.

MIKE TROSTEL: This year you found a little bit of a fountain of youth at age 60. You've had from 12 starts, ten Top-5s fives and nothing worse than 12th. No wins but still a very consistent year with a bunch of Top-10s. What's been clicking for you this year out on Tour?

JAY HAAS: It's hard to say why but I've been driving the ball better. My irons have been good, short game has been pretty good. My putting has been good. I can't put my finger on it other than, you know, just been one of those stretches where I've been very consistent. It's been a lot of fun. I didn't play great last year. Played okay. Felt like I was better than what I showed last year and I know that I'm getting older and 60, turned 60 in December. I still feel like I can compete. I played with the guys out here all the time and I watch how they play and guys that are winning tournaments and I see how that's done and I haven't been able to do that yet but been very close and it's been fun to have chances to win out here after so many years. But, you know, just try to keep putting one foot in front of the other and see what happens. I'm anxious to get started this week. Hopefully I'll be in contention when it comes down to Sunday.

MIKE TROSTEL: And Jerry, over to you, 68, tied for medalist, Florence, South Carolina Sectional Qualifier. Also the head coach at Wake Forest. I can see the hat you have on right now.

JERRY HAAS: Go Deacons.

MIKE TROSTEL: How much time have you had for competitive golf for the past 17 years you've been coaching at Wake Forest?

JERRY HAAS: I play sparingly. I try to play in the North Carolina Open, the South Carolina Open, some of our sectional events. Now that I'm 50 I can play at the end of this month in the Senior Section Championship and if you play all right there, then it gets you to the Nationals, kind of like the National Club Pro. So, hopefully I'll play all right. In the middle of November we have a tournament down in Port St. Lucie, and if I play okay there, I think Top 30 qualify for the Senior PGA next summer. So, I don't play a lot. You think a golf coach gets to play every day but I really don't. Kind of like a manager more than anything. Billy Harmon gives me a hard time, you get in these events you could pick a little easier course when you get in. I think the course is very difficult. Got to drive it in play and going to have to take advantage of opportunities this week. I think like Jay said, there will be some very good scores but hard to put four good ones together.

MIKE TROSTEL: You guys are about ten years apart. How often do you get to play together either growing up or now even though you have very busy schedules?

JAY HAAS: Not a lot, really. By the time Jerry was starting to play a good bit as a junior player, I was off to college or married, playing on the PGA TOUR with ten years difference but, you know, over the years probably we haven't averaged more than three, four times a year, really. We played yesterday and today. But, you know, we talk on the phone probably three, four times a week and always asking him about the team and things like that. We really don't get an opportunity to play like we would want to, I think, but that's just kind of the nature of life, I guess, getting in the way and living in different towns and things like that. But, you know something maybe you didn't know or I don't know if it's in your notes Jerry was a semi-finalist in the U.S. Am and Sam Randolph beat him. He knows the course a little bit, too.

JERRY HAAS: 30 years ago. How about that? Sam Randolph is here, Scott Verplank was the other semifinalist and myself and Randy Sonja, is the only one not here.

JAY HAAS: He's too old for this tournament.

JERRY HAAS: Probably so. He was an old amateur back then.

JAY HAAS: That's right. He was probably 28 then, right?


MIKE TROSTEL: Very good. We'll open up for questions.

Q. Jay, they say the course is a lot closer to back to '84 and '88 because of changes they made about three, four years ago, the greens are smaller, added some bunkers. How different is it from what you remember and your brother, probably looks similar to what he saw three years ago.
JAY HAAS: I mentioned something to Bob Tway this morning in the fitness trailer, "I don't remember these greens being so small." He said they weren't in 2006. They had gotten bigger in certain areas and so now they're back to where they once were. But, to me the sight lines off the tee are basically the same. You got to drive the ball kind at the same angles and things like that. The greens now, you have to be very, very precise but I don't remember it. I remember every hole, every routing, all that but I don't remember little nuances in the greens from 8 years ago other than like the 9th hole which the green there is maybe almost half the size smaller than it was 8 years ago. So, holes like that, you know, make a huge difference but, generally speaking, it's not that much different just because -- they weren't that big to begin with. There were a couple little necks and things like that. You just have to be precise with your iron game.

JERRY HAAS: It's still hard. I shot 45 the morning of the semifinals against Sam Randolph on the front and I was 7 down making the turn, which is now No. 1 and so they were asking me yesterday, "Do you remember these holes?" I was like, "No, I was a bit of a fog in 1984 when I was 7 down. I don't remember these." I do remember No. 4, the old No. 13 with the water down the left and the little par 3 but it's a good golf course. It's a good test. It. There will be a great champion this week whoever wins. It will be a good player. Won't be a fluke.

Q. Jay, does the flipping of the 9s affect anything, really or is it just --
JAY HAAS: I don't think so. I think the fact that 9 and 18 are the same, you know, that gives us a little bit of similarity of a few years ago but you got to play them all anyway. I don't think it does.

Q. The rain effect, what you think you'll see tomorrow?
JAY HAAS: The rain? You know, we commented today, it didn't seem very mushy. There weren't many soft spots on the golf course. I think it was so dry that it soaked in quite a bit. The greens amazingly were pretty firm going into the rain yesterday and I didn't see -- they were a little softer this morning but not much. I think the rain was great for the golf course. You probably won't see much water put on it from now till Sunday afternoon late. They might syringe the greens and things like that. I thought the course accepted the rain really, really well and doesn't seem to be playing much different.

Q. How much harder is the course right now? People that play out here think it's two, three shots harder than it was previously. What are your thoughts?
JAY HAAS: Yeah. It's hard to put a number on it. I do think, I said earlier that I think the rough is thicker. I think it's a little more different than it was in '06. Seemed like you could get away with the ball in the rough occasionally back then but it doesn't look like you can now. But it's not so bad that you have to chip out which, in some cases, is bad because if you go for the green they're so small you're going to end up in places -- the runoffs and I think generally speaking, the guys are going to be putting a lot of times from below because usually it kind of goes down in that hole and goes back up on the downslope. Now you really can't lift it on to the green or at least I can't so I'm going to be putting from off the edges a lot. So, if the rought was a little higher you probably be wedging out and then wedging on the green and having a short putt at a par but I think -- it's definitely a little bit harder, I think, but I don't know what number I could put on it.

Q. Guys, I know you said you didn't play a lot together because of the ten year age difference but I'm wondering if there is a way you guys could maybe explain how each of you has affected the other in terms of your golf career, whether it's a golf tip or just the philosophy of playing, something that Jerry told Jay and Jay told Jerry about the game?
JERRY HAAS: Yeah. I think it goes back a little bit to our uncle, Bob Goalby who was wonderful player in his own right, doesn't get enough credit and -- but when I'm 12, 13 years old and now he's on Tour and my uncle was in his 40s, I guess in his 40s, so I got to play a lot of golf with him in kind of my formative years, 13, 14, 15 and on up, and he would tell me to work on something and then leave for three weeks and then I would work on it and come back. I'm like, "How is that?" "No, that's not it." "Are you kidding me, I just worked three weeks on it?" Being ten years apart, I'm a very big Jay Haas fan. I really like -- well now, Fridays through Sundays but Thursday through Sundays, I check on Bill Haas and Jay Haas and Webb Simpson and all the guys I've coached and I really -- we talk about rounds and couple years ago maybe -- when did you win in Minnesota, two years ago? Two years ago I was watching TV and I always watch the golf and then I'll kind of slow it down and look at things and I texted Jay and like hey probably none of my business but here is what I see. I think he had shot 75 at the Dick's Sporting Goods Tournament. He never shoots 75. I said, here is what I see, getting a little steep, whatever. Tommy Lamb then told me, his caddy, told me later, "When did you tell him that?" I told him. He shot 67 the next day and maybe finished 2nd the next week and then he won about two weeks later and I still haven't gotten a cut. I thought maybe I will get a little credit or something. I'm still waiting. But, I don't know if that answers your question but I'm -- he's been like a father to me. He's been a great brother. Returns my phone calls, gives me great advice so I can't thank him enough.

JAY HAAS: I think the ten year difference, there wasn't a real competition between us. Like my two sons are 14 months apart. There was real competition trying to one up each other. In this case, you know, I would hit it -- I could hit it farther than he could when he was 12 years old and I was in college or whatever. Really wasn't -- I'm his biggest fan and I think it goes the same without saying on the other side. But, we both help each other in those terms. Jerry played on the PGA TOUR for a few years, he played the Nike Tour. I'd see certain little things and talk about golf all the time. But I don't know that there's any one piece of advice that I got from him or gave to him or anything like that. Obviously it was a good one there when I won so I have to check my records and go back to that. It's just -- pretty unique relationship I guess as brothers with that big of a spread there and kind of going into the same business, but, again, we talk all the time, talk about his team and things like that and it's been fun. I was charged when he qualified here and get to play with him and see how he does out here. He played last year at Pebble Beach at The First Tee Invitational and played really well there and kicked my butt there, so --

JERRY HAAS: He had a bad back, though.

JAY HAAS: Hope he does more of it this week.

JERRY HAAS: Buddy of mine texted me when you beat Jay Haas you make more than $9,600. Yeah, truly.

Q. Jerry, having played here 30 years ago, does coming back here make you reflect on your playing career?
JERRY HAAS: Little bit, yeah. It's nice people ask me why I play and why I do this and I think sometimes -- I'm a fairly decent player. I'm not great. I have my days where I'm better than others and just the fact that I think for recruiting for Wake Forest, for the players I coach, the fact that I can get out there and put my name on a scorecard and sign it and attest hey, this is what I shot, and I think it gives you credibility with these young guys and it's tough being a college golf coach because you got ten different personalities and you're trying to make each guy the best player they can be and lot of people, parents, outsiders say it looks so easy but I know it's not. I've done it a long time and, you know, I don't know why I wasn't more successful or maybe on the other hand maybe I've been pretty successful for the amount of ability I have. Who knows? I think you look at it different ways.

Q. I was going to say, you've obviously been out of the full-time playing gig for a long time. You gave it a good shot. Is that how you look at it?
JERRY HAAS: Absolutely. I have no regrets. I always said I didn't want the game to beat me mentally, I didn't want to hate golf and, you know, I dread playing and that's far from the case. I love this game. I have a passion for golf. It's nice to watch golf being played the right way, watching Jay Haas who happens to be related to me, but anybody. I played a practice round with Jeff Sluman and Billy Andrade, watching them and learning and just being out here and a part, I'm very blessed. I call my Uncle Bob all the time after I play in an event to say hey, thank you for teaching me this great game because it's truly is a great game. You can play it forever.

Q. I was just curious, just the last two days, since you don't get to play much, was there something that you saw in each other's game that wow, I didn't know he could do that or tried something around the green, chip shot that wow, I didn't know he could play that one? Anything surprise you?
JERRY HAAS: No. I mean I watch Jay play and he really drives the ball well and I think that sets up any golf course. If you look at the year he's had and why he's been successful for 40-some years, he just is a great driver of the ball and I think you swing better now than maybe he ever has. Back when Jay was younger didn't have cameras and didn't look at it all the time which I think we were talking about this last night at dinner, that the good players out here, the ones that last don't ask a lot of questions. Don't say, "Hey, take a look at my swing, how does this look?" I think good players just kind of figure it out. They don't really want to know what you think about it because they have to kind of feel it and feel what it's like for them. We're two different people. I'm a probably more high-strung than Jay and I think he would admit that. I got to slowdown and calm down and -- but, just -- we all go a little differently but that's why he's been great. I remember one time he told me after 20 years of being a pro that I think you may have only had three, four sets of irons. If he had if he had a set of irons he liked, he played them. That's a testament to hey this is what I got. There was no fitting system. He learned how to play them. He learned how to use them very well. So, I think that's why Jay Haas been very successful.

JAY HAAS: Jerry Haas always been a good ball striker as a junior player, everything. I see that again this week, you know, playing with him. There's really -- you know, there's weaknesses in everybody's game. He's a very consistent player. For somebody who doesn't play as much, he's -- to just show up and qualify for this event is not an easy thing. To get one of these spots is pretty precious for him to run down there to Florence and shoot 68. Just because it's a qualifier or whatever, the cup is still the same size. Shooting a round to get into this tournament is pretty great. But, you know, again, I watched him hit a lot of good shots and watched him hit a lot of good ones the last couple days. Nothing out of the ordinary, though. I've seen him hit a lot of good ones.

MIKE TROSTEL: Any other questions for Jay or Jerry Haas? One more.

Q. Jerry I was just curious how much being around the team keeps you involved in and also keeps you, you know, playing and motivated to keep your game sharp?
JERRY HAAS: Very much so, yes. They all out-drive me by 50, 60, 70 yards and most of the time my score seems to add up less than theirs. But so then I tell them, "Hey, just think if you got better at that what an advantage you already have by hitting it further." I'm getting some players now -- we're going be very good here the next four, five years. Recruiting has gone exceptionally well and got good players already in place and then six more coming here in the next two years. I'm very excited about the Wake Forest golf team which is my primary job, I guess. But, to be able to play with them -- and then I don't believe a player needs a lesson every time you hit a bad shot. But by being able to play with them or be able to watch them for a period of time, "You can say hey, you do this really well, you do this really well, but here is what I see you can get better" and that just kind of narrows their focus on what they need to do to get better and, unfortunately, I can't get a 20 second time out or I can't jerk a kid or I can't chew on him on the golf course. You kind of have to make sure they're ready to go when they get there. As we all know as players, sometimes you think you're ready and you're not and other times you think you're going to shoot 85 and play pretty well. That is what keeps me young. That is what -- I think that is what tries to make me keep in shape and have a pretty decent game that when I can play with them I can at least show them hey, here is what it needs to look like. They just take it from there. Bill Haas gave me one of the greatest compliments at our Wake Forest Pro-Am a couple years ago. He thought I was the best player on the team when he was in school. I'm thinking to myself, the guy has averaged 68 and won ten times in college and Player of the Year. No, you were the best player, Bill. He always said, "When I play with Uncle Jerry, I kind of knew where my game stood, if I could hang with him or beat him." I've only had a few beat me and they're doing quite well in life, making a lot of money. I need some more that can beat me though, then we'll be on our way.

JAY HAAS: Thank you all.

MIKE TROSTEL: Jay Haas off at 1:52 off the first tee on Thursday and Jerry 1:10 off the 10th hole on Thursday
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