The 38th U.S. Senior Challenge Cup produced a lot of competitive golf in the first two rounds. The competition is heating up at the Canyon Club, Albuquerque in New Mexico.
Randy Haag, the 36-hole leader in this week’s tournament may be having the most fun.
The 64-year old Californian has a three shot lead going into the final round on Thursday. How does he do it? It’s a combination of a good game plan, a little skill and some luck.
Haag, who had a score of par for his first nine holes but was 1 over his tournament total, stepped it up when he reached the turn. Haag missed his wedge shot from 115 yard after he bombed his drive on the 1st par 4, which was also his 10th hole. Haag blamed the shortfall on the elevation and remained positive, trusting his sand-game, hoping to save par.
Haag’s bunkershot found the bottom hole with perfection.
Haag, who had saved a few clutch pars on his card and added a couple birdies on his card for the day, stood on the ninth tee at 2 under and was looking to cruise to the clubhouse.
“I teed it high to launch my ball over the trees,” Haag said Golfweekspan size=”font weight: 400 ;”>. “I hit the ball hard, but it was low. The first tree was hit .”
Haag couldn’t find his ball following the ricochet. Haag was just about to give up the search when the group behind him found the ball on the fairway at No. He was saved from having to pay a penalty for re-teeing.
Haag was faced with a difficult decision thanks to the 80 yard kick to the left. Haag decided to trust the 5-wood despite all of the risk.
Haag laughed. “I said screw it,” he replied.
Haag returned to the game with a par-worthy high draw. The Canyon Club’s ninth green is elevated with a large false front. Haag’s blind shot was to try and get the ball up and down, or at the very least, make a bogey.
The next few moments can only be described by the word chaos.
As soon as the ball touched down, Haag’s playing partner, and close friend Dennis Martin, stripped off his shirt and emptied his pocket. He then began to dance.
“You could literally hit a 100 balls and none would go in,” said he.
Haag’s shot resulted in a Harry Higgs/Joel Dahmen-like moment. He finished his second round with a score of 3 under par, giving him a three-shot lead heading into the third round.
Haag has won over 300 tournaments in his amateur career, including three victories and three runner up finishes to date in 2023. He is looking at his recent losses as a way to close out Thursday’s win.
“I knew how to win but I also know the three tournaments that I finished second in. I became impatient,” said Golfweekspan size=”font weight: 400 ;”>. I’m approaching tomorrow with a different mindset. I will play each hole as I always have, hit the correct spots and not make any mistakes .”
Rex Enright, from Albuquerque, is the one chasing on Thursday. Enright, one of the two players leading the division with an even par 72 after the first round, carded a 73-hole round that included five birdies.
Mark Elliot, Dennis Martin and Anton Solome are six points behind Haag.
Solome can make a clean sweep with a good final round. He is part of Team New Mexico – Slayton, which leads the U.S. team portion. Challenge Cup.
Along with Kevin Sivage and Bill Squier, team captain Jerry Slayton holds a 12-shot advantage over the rest.
In the second round on Wednesday, two aces were recorded. Michael Healey (No. Tim Tyner (No. Both carded 1s for the Senior division.
Super Seniors (65-69)
John Hornbeck, Wyoming, leads the Super Senior division with 6 over. Crispin Fuentes (9 over) from New Mexico and Ronald Kilby (10 over) from Texas complete the final pair.
New Mexico’s Jack Slayton has a three-shot advantage (4 under) following consecutive 70s. Bev Hargraves of Arkansas is trying to catch him after rounds 73 and 70.
Super Legends (75+)
David Rasley, of Arizona, has a six shot lead in the 75-year-old age group.