Haas gets fast start, share of first-round lead

Updated: October 15, 2005, 1:36 AM ET
Associated Press

SPRING, Texas -- Jay Haas got off to a fast start in his bid to win consecutive Champions Tour events, shooting a 7-under 65 on Friday for a share of the first-round lead with Des Smyth and Morris Hatalsky in the Administaff Small Business Classic.

The 51-year-old Haas, still active on the PGA Tour, won the Greater Hickory Classic on Sunday in North Carolina for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Haas, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour who will receive the U.S. Golf Association's 2006 Bob Jones Award for distinguished sportsmanship, had an eagle and five birdies in his bogey-free round on the Augusta Pines course. He eagled the par-5 second hole and played the back nine in 5-under 31 with birdies on Nos. 10-13 and 18.

"It's a relaxed feeling for me," Haas said. "Obviously, I'm playing well so I have an attitude to be patient and let it happen."

Smyth, a two-time winner this year, also had a bogey-free round. He made 35- and 25-foot birdie putts on Nos. 10 and 11.

"The highlight of my round was the start of the back side," Smyth said. "I didn't take a good second shot on either of them and I came away with birdies."

Hale Irwin was a stroke back along with Brad Bryant, Bobby Wadkins and Mark McNulty, and Mike Sullivan, Danny Edwards, Dave Barr and Gil Morgan opened with 67s.

The 60-year-old Irwin, a four-time winner this year and the tour's career leader with 44, made a 72-foot par putt on the final hole.

Wadkins, who bogeyed two of the final four holes after reaching 8 under, had an eagle and two birdies on the first three holes, while playing partner Bryant birdied the first three.

"It was fast and furious at the start," Bryant said. "I played a good round. I've been playing well. I just haven't been able to close the deal the past few weeks. My putter helped me today, which is a major turnaround for me."

Defending champion Larry Nelson opened with an even-par 72, money leader Dana Quigley shot a 74, and Arnold Palmer had a 78.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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