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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > Champions Tour > FedEx Kinkos Classic > Round 3
 

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Jay Haas wins second straight title

For a guy who still flirts with appearances on the PGA Tour, Jay Haas has found his found his comfort zone on the senior circuit.

The 52-year-old Haas won his second straight Champions Tour title Sunday, shooting a 7-under 65 for a two-stroke victory over Tom Kite and Englishman Mark James in the FedEx Kinko's Classic. Haas finished with an 11-under 205 total.

Haas had 10 birdies in the final round at The Hills course, including a stretch of five in a row on the front nine and three more in the final four holes.

Haas won the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf a week earlier in Georgia and collected $240,000 for his latest victory, but the 52-year-old plans a quick jump back to the PGA Tour to play in the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C.

It could will be a chance to play with his two sons. Bill Haas is in the field and Jay Jr., will try to qualify for the tournament on Monday.

But Haas knows the glamour and big money of the PGA Tour is starting to be a thing of the past for a player who said he had to pop about 10 Advil during Sunday's round to soothe an aching back. He missed the cut earlier this month in the PGA Tour's Verizon Heritage in South Carolina.

The Champions Tour would seem like his regular home now. Sunday's win was his fourth in two years and 20 starts. He also has nine more top-10 finishes.

"I need to (win) sooner than later," he said. "Once you get to a certain age out here, it seems like the percentages go down. I enjoy being in contention. That's what we play for."

Haas held off the back pain and hometown favorite Kite to get the win.

He held a one-stroke lead heading into the par-5 18th and hit his second shot into the bunker. He knocked out to a foot and rolled in the birdie to double his cushion.

That left Kite needing an eagle to tie and force a playoff but had to settle for par after a poor tee shot.

Kite, the former University of Texas star, was trying to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned event in Texas for the first time. He is winless in Texas in 98 starts on the PGA Tour and 11 on the Champions Tour.

"Yes, I'm bummed out," Kite said. "I wish I had won this."

Haas has five career victories in the Lone Star State.

"I like Texas," Haas said.

Haas started the round at 4 under, three strokes behind Bruce Fleisher. Fleisher quickly pushed his score to 11 under on the front nine but faded badly on the back nine and ended up in a sixth-place tie at 5 under after a 74.

But even when Fleisher was dropping putts early, it was Haas who created a stir with his charge up the leaderboard. Haas had a string of birdies on Nos. 2-6 and got to 10 under with his sixth on the par-5 eighth hole.

He didn't look as if he could sustain it, however, when he dropped two bogeys on the next two holes and was sitting at 8-under with four holes to play.

But even with those problems, he pulled into a four-way tie with Kite, James and Fleisher with a long birdie putt from the fringe on No. 15.

"That was probably my best putt of the week," Haas said.

He followed it with another on the tough par-3 16th. Haas birdied all four par 3s on the day and needed only 21 putts in the final round.

Kite and James just couldn't keep up. Both had chances to take the lead with short putts on No. 15 but missed.

The crowd groaned with each miss that kept Kite from seizing the outright lead. By the time he reached the 18th green, several people in the crowd yelled "Knock it in Tom!" before his shot out of the bunker finished well right of the hole.

Kite's struggle started on the tee box when he pulled it left, forcing him to try to bend a shot into the green.

Haas had no such problems. His tee shot found the middle of the fairway and even when he landed in the bunker, he had a flat lie. He blasted out and the ball kept rolling across a fast green toward the cup.

"It was about the easiest spot I could have been in," he said.

 




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