Next week will mark my 19th Masters, but I still get a thrill
every time I play Augusta National. My love affair with the place
began the first time I played there, when I was in high school. I
tagged along with my uncle Bob [Goalby], who was playing a
practice round five days before the tournament, and played out of
his bag. I probably shouldn't have done that, but hopefully I
won't be reprimanded after all this time.
After I became a pro, Uncle Bob and I used to play practice
rounds every year in Augusta. He'd tell me, "Don't go here,
because I remember one year Sam [Snead] hit it here, and he had a
chip he couldn't get up and down." At the time I didn't realize
what it meant to Uncle Bob to win the 1968 Masters and return to
Augusta year after year. Now that I do, I would like nothing
better than to have a place in the champions' locker room, as he
I usually play pretty well at Augusta and have finished in the
top five three times. When I get on almost every tee, I can look
down the fairway and visualize a good shot. Certain courses fit
certain players' eyes, and Augusta seems to fit mine.
My best chance for a victory in the Masters came in 1995, when
Ben Crenshaw won for the second time. I led after two rounds,
then shot a 39 on the front nine on Saturday. Those nine holes
did me in. On the 3rd hole I missed the green and chipped up to
about eight feet and was getting ready to putt when my ball
moved. I took a penalty stroke and ended up making double bogey.
That shook me up, and I never really recovered. I came back to
shoot even par for the day but ended the tournament in third,
losing by three strokes.
The sense of history surrounding the place is overwhelming.
There aren't many places where you can hit balls on the same
range used by Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead.
Jay Haas has a stroke average of 72.87 in 18 Masters starts.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK