68-year-old pro breaks PGA Tour record that stood for over 4 decades
All of the warm, fuzzy, feel-good feelings were gone now. Son had left dad a 4-footer.
You likely haven’t heard from a Haas in a while. Sixty-eight-year-old Jay hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the Clinton administration. Bill not since early 2015. But then son asked dad if he wanted to play in this week’s team event on the PGA Tour, the Zurich Classic, and both were again getting Golf Channel airtime and the pre-tournament press conference treatment.
The father-son angle? That was cute. But a 68-year-old father? If you thought that was at least a little crazy, well, you weren’t the only one.
“I think my first thought — again, like I said, I said, are you sure?” Jay Haas said in that pre-tourney presser. “I don’t want you to waste a week just to play with me. We can play any time.”
By now, you can maybe tell where this is going. We would turn the other direction if Team Haas went 75 and 75. During Thursday’s first round at TPC Louisiana, where best ball was in play, the Haases shot a respectable 65. Thirty-five teams were worse. Dad even birdied four times.
They didn’t stop Friday. In alternate-shot play, they birdied 1. Then 2. A bogey at 3 was offset by another birdie, at 7. And everyone was typing, “Who’s the oldest player to ever make a cut on the PGA Tour?”
That would be the legendary Sam Snead, who, at the age of 67 years, two months and 23 days, reached the weekend in August of 1979 at the Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic. Jay Haas had him beat. On Friday, he was 68 years, four months and 20 days young. And after another birdie on 11, he could see Saturday.
You probably know where this is headed, too. Golf isn’t easy. Father and son three-putted the 14th. Dad made a 3-footer for par on 15. Son made a 6-footer for par on 16. Then Bill dumped his tee shot into the water on 17. On 18, the scoreboard read this way: Bill Haas-Jay Haas eight-under, projected cut line eight-under. They couldn’t drop another stroke.
On the par-5 finisher, dad drove it in a bunker. Son hit out. Dad hit his iron on, but his ball was left and 47 feet away. Son putted it 43.
Over 799 Tour starts, Jay, how many putts like that have you stood over?
“Way too many, I know that,” he said. “That was probably as nervous as I’ve ever been over a putt of that length certainly. It sounds silly just to have a chance to make the cut. However, there’s a lot of circumstances here that it kind of made it doubly important in my mind.
“Again, we were right there. We had a big — not a big cushion but a cushion, and it didn’t feel like we had it made by any means, but to somehow shake that putt in on the last hole was something I’ll never forget. But just the whole week, playing with Bill, getting texts from all my kids, it’s just been a real charge.”
The new record-holder, yes, had rolled in the 4-footer.
“Yeah, just wanted to put him on it,” Bill joked afterward. “No, I told myself walking up, I said, let’s just get this thing down close and let’s tap it in and hopefully that’ll be good enough. …
“But fun to hang on, fun for him to make that last putt. I’d feel sick to my stomach if I would have left it short there and we missed, especially hitting it in the water on 17 — you just feel like you want to take all the blame if something doesn’t go right. I know if he’d have missed it, I wouldn’t have cared, and if I’d have missed it, I would have felt horrible. I’m just glad he made it and we don’t have those feelings.”
The week isn’t over, either. As for the record, you won’t hear Jay talk much about it. Slammin Sammy, he said, didn’t set his mark in a team event. In fact, according to golf stats guru Justin Ray, Snead made the cut three times at age 67, including at the PGA Championship.
But ask Bill, and he agrees with what his dad said earlier. Father and son could play anytime.
But he wasn’t wasting a week. All of the warm, fuzzy, feel-good moments are back now.
“I want to make the cut so bad,” the younger Haas said. “Again, I don’t think we showed up just to try — we wouldn’t have been so nervous if we just didn’t care. But he can shoot a good score. The ball doesn’t know who’s hitting it, and he played amazing yesterday. I was getting stretched this morning, and Charley Hoffman was raving about how good he played yesterday, and I just kind of said, well, I see it all the time at home. This isn’t anything new.
“It is long; that’s the big challenge I think for myself but definitely for my dad is it’s a very long course, and he’s hitting woods. We joked that he hit six par-5s in two yesterday, because he’s hitting a lot of woods and hybrids in and he’s hitting them inside our 7-irons and 6-irons.
“Again, if you hit a good shot, which he did all day yesterday and today, it doesn’t matter how old you are.”