Haas trying to turn back clock at the Hope

Sunday, January 20, 2002

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Jay Haas is trying to turn back the clock in the Bob Hope Desert Classic.

The 48-year-old Haas, the Hope champion 14 years ago, knocked an 8-iron out of a divot in the rough and into the hole from 150 yards out for an eagle to begin his round Saturday. He went on to shoot a 9-under 63, good for a one-shot lead over Kenny Perry and Cameron Beckman.

A nine-time PGA Tour winner looking for his first victory since 1993, Haas had a 26-under 262 total through 72 holes in the five-day tournament.

He won the 1988 Hope with a 338 total, closing with a 70 for a two-stroke victory over David Edwards.

Haas already was 34 and a 12-year veteran of the PGA Tour for 12 years when he won the event. If he can win again, he will become the oldest Hope champion.

Haas tied for 38th last week at Hawaii, and has parlayed accuracy with his irons and a steady touch on the greens to take the Hope lead. He rolled in a 30-footer on No. 16, and made a string of putts from 15 feet and closer on his way to eight birdies as he matched his opening 63.

The pros rotate among four different courses and play with amateurs the first four days of the Hope. Sunday's final round will be played by the low 70 pros and ties, at the Palmer Course at PGA West.

Among those within close striking distance of the lead is Phil Mickelson, who shot a 65 to go to 22 under in his first event in five months.

Haas played the fourth round at Indian Wells Country Club, away from the circus atmosphere at PGA West, where the pros teamed with celebrities and were trailed by large galleries. The crowd included several thousand teen-age and younger girls, most following Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync and Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean.

Pro wrestler Bill Goldberg also drew a large and vocal group and ended his round by tossing his caddie into the lake at No. 18 -- a stunt that looked suspiciously as if it were scripted.

Perry, the 1995 Hope winner, shot a 10-under 62 at PGA West to move into excellent position for a run at the lead over the same course on Sunday.

Beckman, who broke into the winner's circle last year in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, had a 65.

Kirk Triplett (67), Deane Pappas (67), Brandel Chamblee 66) and David Berganio Jr. (64) were at 264, two shots out of the lead.

Duffy Waldorf, who shared the third-round lead with Triplett and Pappas, lost ground by shooting a 68 that dropped him three shots out of the lead.

John Daly, playing for the first time this year, shot himself out of contention with a par 72, leaving him at 15 under.

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