Jay Haas says golfers feel the pinch of downturn in economy 2009: Business Clive

Jay Haas says golfers feel the pinch of downturn in economy

Business was good at a Clive restaurant shortly after noon Tuesday.

"Busy place," Jay Haas, the Principal Charity Classic's defending champion, said as he sat at a corner table and reviewed a menu. Recession That word didn't come to mind over the din of conversation. But the harsh reality is that the Champions Tour, where Haas makes a living as a professional golfer, is not recession- proof. "They've been making us aware of the fact that these are tough times," Haas said. "If you have any sense at all, you know what's going on." The Champions Tour, for players 50 years of age and older, is already golf's friendliest tour. Players are quick with a smile and an autograph, whether they shoot 67 of 77. They attend cocktail parties and draw parties with regularity, and treat their pro-am partners like royalty. "The Champions Tour has gone that extra mile for a long time," Haas said. "When they started the Champions Tour 30 years ago, they had to go out and sell this thing. We were the new kids on the block in the corporate world. Who would have thought it would be as successful as it's been" The same could be said for Haas and his love affair with Glen Oaks. He's the only back-to-back champion in the tournament's eight-year history. "As soon as I got here I liked the golf course," Haas said. "I was thinking about that (Tuesday) morning as I was coming here. There are certain drives and approaches to the green that really appeal to me. There are very few holes where I don't feel comfortable standing on the tee. I feel like I'm going to hit good shots when I stand there." Haas, 55, hasn't won on the Champions Tour since the Principal Charity Classic in 2008, his 12th career victory. He has broken par in all six competitive rounds he's played at Glen Oaks the last two years, and has a 67.3 stroke average on the par-71 course. Those six rounds have earned him $498,750, or $1,234 and change per stroke. Haas could become the eighth player in Champions Tour history to win a tournament three straight years if he's successful next month. "It's getting tougher and tougher to repeat," Haas said. "But I'm anxious to get back. Hopefully it will be good to me again."

Two-time defending Principal Charity Classic champion Jay Haas will try to become the eighth player to win a Champions Tour event three straight times. A closer look: 5-Hale Irwin: Turtle Bay Championship, 2000-03, 2005 (event was not held in 2004) 3-Chi Chi Rodriguez: Digital Seniors Classic, 1986-88 3-Hale Irwin: Senior PGA Championship, 1996-98 3-Bob Charles: Sunwest Bank/Charley Pride Senior Classic, 1987-89 3-George Archer: Northville Long Island Classic, 1990-92 3-Joe Inman: SBC Senior Classic, 1998-2000 3-Bruce Fleisher: Home Depot Invitational, 1999-2001

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