Haas looks to defend title at Greater Hickory Classic

Sep 28, 2006 - 6:36 PM CONOVER, North Carolina (Ticker) - Jay Haas returns to the place where he earned his first Champions Tour victory when the Greater Hickory Classic begins on Friday.

Haas has three wins this season and is second on the money list with more than $1.89 million in earnings. But he always will remember the final day at this event last October.

Three shots off the lead heading into the final round, Haas closed with a 7-under-par 65 that included five birdies on his final seven holes to overtake Dana Quigley. That started a streak of four consecutive top-five finishes, including a win in the SBC Championship in San Antonio.

A resident of South Carolina, Haas won the Senior PGA Championship in May for his first Champions major after winning two events in April - the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf and the FedEx Kinko's Classic.

"I feel pretty comfortable here and the crowd is behind me pretty good," Haas said. "I like this golf course and hopefully I'll do as well as I did last year."

Loren Roberts, the Champions Tour money leader who also has three wins this season, withdrew from the event to attend the funeral of Hall of Fame golfer Byron Nelson, who died on Tuesday.

Haas tied for second in the Constellation Energy Classic two weeks ago. Bob Gilder carded a final-round 7-under 65 to finish two shots ahead of Haas, Don Pooley and Brad Bryant.

Bryant has won two events this season and is third on the money list.

The par-72 course is a 7,046-yard layout. First prize is $240,000.

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