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It all falls into place for Haas

He finishes with a six-under-par 65 and sets a 72-hole tournament record at 19 under to win at Newport Beach. Eaks is second.

March 12, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Jay Haas watched the ball hang on the lip of the cup at the 10th hole, teasing him for about eight seconds. Then, as it had been throughout the Toshiba Classic, everything rolled his way.

It was about the only thing that hung in doubt during the final round Sunday at the Newport Beach Country Club.

Haas, 53, finished with a six-under-par 65 to set a 72-hole tournament record at 19 under. R.W. Eaks also shot a 65 and finished 17 under, which matched the old tournament record set by Hale Irwin in 2002, ended up with his third career second-place finish and asked the first question in the interview room afterward.

"How can Jay Haas play that good?" Eaks said in admiration. "Every time I had a birdie, Jay had one right on top of me. He is playing as well as anyone right now. It's enjoyable to watch. I was playing for second place after the 12th hole."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday March 13, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Golf: A headline and story in Monday's Sports section said Jay Haas won the Toshiba Classic by finishing with a six-under-par 65 to set a 72-hole tournament record at 19 under. He set a 54-hole tournament record.

Ben Crenshaw and Joe Ozaki tied for third at 13 under. It was the highest finish for Crenshaw since he joined the Champions Tour and an even bigger moment for Ozaki, who had to qualify Tuesday to get a spot in the event.

Peter Jacobsen, a week removed from laser back surgery, started the day one shot behind Haas, but appeared to tire and finished tied for fifth, seven strokes back.

But the three days belonged entirely to Haas, who picked up his first win of the season.

"Any time you break a record that Hale Irwin set, you've done something special," Haas said. "I don't think I was as sharp from tee to green as I was the last two days, but I took advantage of my opportunities."

And avoided mistakes.

Haas salvaged par three times by chipping out of bunkers on the second, sixth and 14th holes. Haas did not have a bogey through 43 holes of this tournament before taking one on the eighth Sunday.

"After the eighth, I felt I was trying to be too fine, trying to hit the perfect shot each time," Haas said. "I was talking myself on the way to nine, 'If you're going to get bogeys, get them being aggressive, don't be a wimp.' "

He had birdies on the next three holes, including the hanging putt that fell on 10.

Haas had a two-stroke lead when he lined up a 16-foot putt on the 10th hole. The ball hooked toward the hole, then stopped on the edge. When it fell, the tournament was pretty much over.

"It just hung on the edge," Haas said. "Peter looked at me and said to me, 'I thought that was going in,' and I said, 'I did too.' Finally, the ball then dropped."

Ending much of the suspense for the day.

"After the 14th hole, I felt like if I didn't do anything stupid, I was going to be all right," Haas said.

Haas edged ahead when Eaks and Jacobsen took bogeys on the par-three fifth hole. Jacobsen hit into the bunker to the right of the green off the tee. Eaks gaffed a two-foot putt, with the ball rolling off the lip. That left Haas with a two-stroke lead and no one got closer from then on. "Jay is one of the most complete players I ever played with and he was on fire today," Jacobsen said.

This may have been the first win of 2007 for Haas, but it was his fifth top-five finish in the first seven events this season.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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