Originally created 05/01/06

Haas wins second straight Champions Tour title



LAKEWAY, Texas - The hometown crowd was pulling for Tom Kite. Jay Haas won it anyway.

Haas stormed through the front nine with six birdies - five in a row in one stretch - then ended the round with three in the final four holes Sunday, pulling away for a two-stroke victory over Kite and Englishman Mark James in the FedEx Kinko's Classic.

It was Haas' second straight victory and fourth career Champions Tour title. He won the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf last week in Georgia.

On Sunday, Haas held a one-stroke lead heading into the par-5 18th and hit his second shot into the bunker. He knocked out to a foot and rolled in the birdie to double his cushion at 11-under 205.

That left Kite needing an eagle to tie and force a playoff, but he hit his second shot in a bunker, then had to settle for par.

Haas shot a 7-under 65 on The Hills course to claim the winner's check of $240,000. He birdied all four par 3s.

Kite, the former University of Texas star, was trying to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned event in Texas for the first time. He is winless in Texas in 98 starts on the PGA Tour and 11 on the Champions Tour.

Haas started the round at 4 under, three strokes behind Bruce Fleisher. Fleisher quickly pushed his score to 11 under on the front nine but faded badly on the back nine and ended up in a sixth-place tie at 5 under after 74.

But even when Fleisher was dropping putts early, it was Haas who created a stir with his charge up the leaderboard. Haas had a string of birdies on Nos. 2-6 and got to 10 under with his sixth on the par-5 eighth hole.

He didn't look as if he could sustain it, however, when he dropped two bogeys on the next two holes and was sitting at 8-under with four holes to play.

But even with those problems, he pulled into a four-way tie with Kite, James and Fleisher with a long birdie putt from the fringe on No. 15. He followed it with another on the tough par-3 16th.

Kite and James just couldn't keep up. Both had chances to take the lead with short putts on No. 15 but missed.

The crowd groaned with each miss that kept Kite from seizing the outright lead. By the time he reached the 18th green, several people in the crowd yelled "Knock it in Tom!" before his shot out of the bunker finished well right of the hole.

Kite's struggle started on the tee box when he pulled it left, forcing him to try to bend a shot into the green.

Haas had no such problems. His tee shot found the middle of the fairway and even when he landed in the bunker, he had a flat lie. He blasted out and the ball kept rolling across a fast green toward the cup.