NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Jay Haas shot an 8-under 63 on Saturday to take a five-stroke lead in the Toshiba Classic, putting him position to become the second-oldest winner in PGA Tour Champions history.
At 62 years, 10 months, 7 days Sunday, Haas would fall short of only Mike Fetchick, the 1985 Hilton Head Seniors Invitational winner at 63 years to the day. Gary Player is No. 2 on the list at 62 years, 9 months, 22 days in the 1998 Northville Long Island Classic.
“I don’t know what’s gotten into me other than – and I’ve always said the ball doesn’t know how old you are or what your name is or anything like that – if you hit a good shot, it goes right down the middle and on the green and in the hole,” Haas said. “So, I’m not trying to think about being old or anything like that. I feel good, I feel positive with my swing. I’m not doing it with smoke and mirrors.”
He missed a chance to shoot his age when his eagle try to 18 stopped short.
“I knew that, yeah,” Haas said. “It was great to even have an opportunity to do that. Obviously, when I was over the putt, I did not think that.”
The 2007 winner at Newport Beach Country Club, Haas has played 36 holes without a bogey. He shot a 64 on Friday for a share of the first-round lead with Billy Mayfair.
“I was feeling solid on the greens and so I was somewhat aggressive and had some nice chances to even get lower, but obviously I made some nice putts, too,” Haas said. “Maybe probably 18 feet at No. 4 and then probably 25 feet at No. 5. Those two were not stealing, but you don’t expect to make those a lot of times.”
Haas won the last of his 17 senior titles in 2014. He won nine times on the PGA Tour and captained the United States’ winning Presidents Cup team last year in South Korea. He birdied three of the final four holes, starting the run on the par-5 15th and adding two more on the par-3 17th and par-5 18th to reach 15-under 127.
Fred Funk, at age 60, was second after a 65. He eagled the 15th and birdied 18.
“I fully expect any of these guys from behind to shoot 62 or 3 and I’m going to have to keep playing hard as I can,” Haas said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a chance coming down the last few holes.”
John Daly shot a 66 to top the group at 9 under. After birdieing the final five holes Friday in a 67, Daly opened birdie-birdie-eagle. He bogeyed the par-3 eighth and birdied the two late par 5s, playing through a left shoulder injury.
“Basically, one-handed the last six holes,” Daly said. “Hopefully, get some ice on it and get the swelling down.”
Daly is making his 14th senior start since turning 50 in April. The two-time major champion has three top-20 finishes on the tour, the best a tie for 11th in July in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
Grant Waite (65), Ian Woosnam (66), Doug Garwood (66), Billy Andrade (6) and Bart Bryant (6) also were 9 under.
“I’m going to have to shoot 64 to have a chance,” Woosnam said.
Rod Spittle fired a seven-under 64 to jump into the top 10 at 8 under. The Canadian had eight birdies, including a string of five consecutive, against just one bogey on the day to vault into a tie for ninth.
Defending champion Duffy Waldorf was tied for 14th at 7 under after a 68. Mayfair, making his sixth start on the tour after turning 50 in August, had a 76 to drop into a tie for 45th at 2 under.