Champions Tour: Jay Haas wins Greater Hickory Kia Classic
Jay Haas became the 18th player to win a Champions Tour at 60 or older, closing with a 5-under 66 on Sunday for a two-stroke victory in the Greater Hickory Kia Classic.
The 60-year-old former Wake Forest player has 17 victories on the 50-and-over tour after winning nine times on the PGA Tour. He also won the event in 2005 and 2009.
"Sixty is some sort of benchmark, not that many guys have done that," Haas said. "It’s just a number, I guess. I still like feel I’m capable, especially after this weekend, and it certainly gives me some confidence for the last couple events and into next year. Hopefully, I won’t completely fall off the map when I turn 61 in December."
Haas extended his streak of under-par rounds to 23 and finished at 17-under 196 on Rock Barn Golf and Spa’s Champions Course. He ended a 27-month, 49-event winless streak since June 2012.
Players 60 and older have won 22 events on the tour, with Hale Irwin accomplishing the feat three times and Tom Watson and Jimmy Powell doing it twice each. Mike Fetchick is the oldest winner at 63 years in the 1985 Hilton Head Seniors Invitational.
Joe Durant and Kirk Triplett tied for second. Durant and Triplett, the winner last week in Cary, shot 66.
Haas began the round with a two-stroke lead over Durant, Triplett and David Frost. Durant — who joined the Champions Tour in April — birdied five of the first six holes to tie Haas for the lead.
"I got off to a nice start," said Durant, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. "Then I just kind of hit the doldrums. I couldn’t make a putt. I had some good opportunities and didn’t make any of them."
Haas pulled back in front with a birdie on No. 13. Durant lost another stroke with a bogey on No. 15.
"It certainly didn’t help," Durant said. "I just knew I was going to have to make a putt for a par because I just didn’t have much of a second shot, really. That’s a hard hole. You need to hit the fairway there, and I didn’t."
Haas pushed his lead to two strokes with a birdie on No. 17, sinking a 16-foot putt. Haas nearly pushed his lead to three shots on No. 18, just missing a 12-foot birdie putt.
"I never made it easy on myself," Haas said. "I’ve felt like I played well enough to win at times, but for whatever reason wasn’t able to pull it off. But having the lead pretty much the whole day, and hold on to do that makes it pretty special."