Bob Goalby says nephew Jay Haas will win Senior PGA Championship

ST. LOUIS — Bob Goalby has a prediction.

Wearing a sharp fedora and toting one of those famous green-and-white umbrellas, the man who won that controversial 1968 Masters Tournament — the one where Roberto De Vicenzo botched his scorecard — followed his nephew. The 84-year-old tracked Jay Haas all over Bellerive Country Club during the third round of the Senior PGA Championship on Saturday. And after he saw Haas sink a 15-foot putt to notch his fifth birdie of the day, Goalby had made up his mind.

“I’m looking for him to win tomorrow,” Goalby said about Haas. “I really am. He’s been looking good all week.”

Before Saturday’s midday thunderstorm sent bystanders hustling toward white tents, most of the tournament’s participants who have St. Louis ties were clearly out of the race for the Alfred S. Bourne trophy.

Brian Fogt and Jerry Tucker made their exits early. Both failed to slip into Saturday’s third round by not making the five-over-par cut line that thinned the field to 80 players. Two of the locals who did survive, Bob Gaus and Jay Delsing, were unspectacular. But Haas fired a four-under-par score of 67 on Saturday to move to eight-under on the weekend. That effort has him nipping at the heels of Kenny Perry’s 10-under-par lead.

“I was just trying to get a stroke closer, as close as I could get to Kenny,” Haas said.

If he succeeds in catching Perry, Haas will add a third Senior PGA Championship victory to his resume. The setting seems to favor the 59-year-old. He was born in St. Louis and raised in nearby Belleville, Ill. As a result, he had some experience playing Bellerive before he moved away from the area in his mid-20s.

“Golf is such a different game than playing at your home court, or something,” Haas said to the notion of a home-course advantage. “I don’t know that it makes a big, big deal of difference.”

His uncle, who still lives in Belleville, wasn’t so sure.

“It’s always a help,” Goalby said. “Because you think you’ve got a little advantage because you’ve played it a lot. … It’s more mental. But this is a mental game. Most of it is that six inches between the ears.”

Haas certainly looked comfortable Saturday. He birdied the fourth, eighth and eleventh holes. Unlike Friday, when he bogeyed twice and double-bogeyed once, Haas corralled bad shots — like one that found a sand trap on the 13th hole — and wrestled them into pars. His only bogey Saturday came on No. 16. He promptly erased that mistake with back-to-back birdies to end the day.

“I honestly can’t ever remember making a three on No. 18,” Haas said. “I’ve played this course a lot of times, and I can’t remember hitting the fairway but about half the time there. To have a birdie opportunity there was really key.”

His uncle, standing in the horde of well-wishers around that final green, swelled with confidence after he watched Haas sink a 15-foot putt to shave Perry’s lead to two strokes.

“That’s just a birdie and a bogey,” Goalby said. “Then, they’re even.”

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