Originally created 06/18/04

50-year-old takes over at U.S. Open



SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - Jay Haas won't be dragged onto the Champions Tour just because of a chronological number.

Not with the numbers he continues to post on the golf course while frolicking with the youngsters.

Haas highlighted a leaderboard mixed with veterans and unknowns Thursday in the first round of the 104th U.S. Open, as he and Japanese star Shigeki Maruyama are tied for the clubhouse lead after each shot 4-under-par 66 at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

The first round was suspended at 4:43 p.m. because of severe weather in the area. After more than two hours of light rain and several lightning strikes, play resumed at 6:55 p.m., but was halted for good 45 minutes later after thick fog rolled over the course.

The first round will resume at 7 a.m. today, with the second round scheduled to begin at the same time with no delays.

There were 63 players remaining on the course when the second suspension of play was announced, including Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who was tied with Haas and Maruyama at 4-under with six holes to play.

Fifteen players who finished their rounds were within four shots of the lead, largely a mix of unproven young players and veteran journeymen. British Open champion Ben Curtis, Jeff Maggert and Skip Kendall shot 68, along with former Pac-10 Player of the Year Kevin Stadler (the son of Champions Tour star Craig Stadler) and Hooters Tour players Kris Cox and David Roesch, each of whom had to go through two qualifying stages to reach the Open.

Masters Tournament champion Phil Mickelson was 2-under with three holes to play; Vijay Singh, the PGA Tour's only three-time winner this year, was 2-under with five holes left; and Steve Flesch was 2-under with four holes remaining.

Fred Funk, who birdied three holes in a row, capped by blasting out of a bunker for a birdie at the par-3 11th hole, double-bogeyed the par-4 15th and was 1-under with one hole to play.

Lagging back but still within sight of the top are pre-tournament favorites such as Ernie Els (70), Tiger Woods (72) and Sergio Garcia (72). Also at 2-over is defending champion Jim Furyk, who had wrist surgery less than three months ago.

Haas turned 50 in December, but has played only in the first Champions Tour major, the Senior PGA Championship. Although Haas hasn't won a PGA Tour event since the 1993 Texas Open, he has five top-10 finishes this year and eight last year.

"People ask me if this is the best I've ever played, because '93 was my last win," Haas said. "But I'm hitting the ball longer than I ever have and I feel more confident with my putting and chipping. But until I win, I won't say it's the best I've played."

Haas mixed a birdie and a bogey on his first two holes, then didn't make another bogey the rest of the round. He took a share of the lead with a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th hole.

Maruyama, a three-time PGA Tour winner, did not make a bogey on the rugged Shinnecock Hills course and outclassed Woods among his group.

TV SCHEDULE

10 a.m. - ESPN3 p.m. - NBC-Ch. 265 p.m. - ESPN