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Haas Red-Hot in Arizona Desert
Jay Haas fired a 10-birdie 60 to take a five-stroke lead in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The $2.5 million tournament, the season-ending event on the Champions Tour, began Thursday on the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Haas posted three birdies on the front nine to make the turn in 3-under 32 on the par-70 course, then reeled off seven more birdies coming home for a 7-under 28 to set a new course record and post his best-ever score as a touring pro. No one has ever shot a magical 59 on the Champions Tour, but Haas joined seven others with his 60.
After opening with a 66 and starting the day two shots behind first-round leader Jay Don Blake, Haas now stands at 14-under 126, five strokes ahead of reigning Charles Schwab Cup champion Tom Lehman, who carded a 63, and six in front of Fred Couples (66).
The 58-year-old Haas was paired Friday with his good friend Couples. "I tried to be aggressive, my misses were close," Haas said during a TV interview. As for the prospect of shooting a 59 - he knew he needed an eagle on the par-5 finishing hole to do that, Haas said, "I was nervous. I wished I had hit (the approach on 18) a little straighter."
Instead, his second into the final green found a bunker on the right-hand side of the green. He still had a chance of breaking 60 if his sand shot found the cup, but the ball came up short and, instead, Haas settled for his seventh and final birdie on the back nine.
As for playing alongside his buddy, Haas said, "We had the best time; I always do with Fred. Just a couple of friends having a good time." When asked if he could duplicate Friday's heroics in the third round, Haas noted, "I don't know - just try to do the same things I've been doing . . . I'm going to go out with the attitude I'm going to continue to play well."
Couples didn't fare too badly himself. Save for a few missed putts, the 53-year-old Seattleite could have joined Haas with a round in the low-60s. Instead, he posted a 4-under 66.
He focused on his pal's play during a post-round interview. "What a round Jay had," said Couples, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next year.
"Had a good time," added Couples, who's coming off an extended break to rest his chronically bad back. After a birdie-bogey front side, Couples carded birdies on Nos. 11-14. But he bogeyed the par-5 15th after he pulled his second shot left of the green and into a pond. He managed a bogey on that hole before closing with a birdie on the last.
"Four-under is pretty good, but a guy shooting 10-under, it feels like shooting 80. I'm excited to be out here for the first time in two months."
Olin Browne carded a 67 to reach 133, while sharing fifth at 134 are David Frost (64), 2012 Charles Schwab Cup points' leader Bernhard Langer (65) and Mark Calcavecchia (66). Frost beat Langer in last week's AT&T Championship in San Antonio on the second sudden-death playoff hole.
Prior to the Champions Tour's season finale, Langer held a 211-point edge over Lehman in the season-long Cup points' race.
Nine strokes behind Haas are John Cook (64), Michael Allen (66), Brad Bryant (67), Kirk Triplett (68), Corey Pavin (68) and Blake. After shooting a 64 Thursday, Blake - also the tournament's defending champion - carded a 1-over 71 in the second round.
Other scores included a 71 by Roger Chapman. The British player, whose only two victories on the Champions Tour came earlier this year in two majors - the Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open, entered the event ranked third in the Cup points' standings behind Langer and Lehman. Through two rounds Chapman is tied for 21st at 1-under 139 in the 30-player event.
For complete scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/s/leaderboard.