Monday, October 12

The Happiest Haas of All

IF YOU'RE JAY HAAS, CAPTAIN of the U.S. President's Cup team, I don't know how things could have gone better in Korea. Maybe if the hosts knew how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for your team. That's all I can come up with.

The Yanks squeaked by the Internationals on Sunday by a point, 15.5 to 14.5. There was drama, choking, clutch play, a little bit of everything. Some folks, including me, thought this one needed to be close and even suggested a win by the Internationals would help the Presidents Cup after so much American dominance.

Well, it was certainly close, which made the matches tense down the stretch, especially for players not used to the unique pressure that accompanies these international team events. In the end, the United States chalked up another victory and the Presidents Cup continues on, perhaps gaining a little more interest and respect, although I doubt it.

I expect the Presidents Cup is, and might always be, the domain of golf diehards.

Getting back to Captain Haas, in the words of Jackie Gleason, "How sweet it is!" Not only did his team hang tough under duress, his picks came through in a big way. And one of those picks was his own boy.

There was plenty of discourse at media outlets on using a captain's pick for the veteran of every Ryder Cup team and Presidents Cup team anyone can remember. I'm referring to Phil Mickelson, of course. I criticized that pick because Lefty hadn't come close to earning a spot with his sticks and I thought at some point it's time to move on and let the next generation lead the U.S. charge.

As it turned out, Phil played inspired golf in Korea and was, as always, full of passion and encouragement on the golf course and in the team room. His young teammates wanted him there. Without a doubt, he was a great pick. Mickelson and his captain deserve much credit.

Lastly, if you're Captain Haas, you saw your other pick, your own flesh and blood (aka Bill Haas), anchor the singles matches and clinch the Cup on the final hole.

"I'm so happy for the team," a choked-up Captain Haas told NBC's Roger Maltbie. "A great bunch of guys."

As a captain and a father, it doesn't get any better than that.

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