Captain's choice of Haas pays immediate dividend PRESIDENTS CUP NOTEBOOK

LAKE MANASSAS, VA. — LAKE MANASSAS, Va. -- Jay Haas, a captain's choice for the United States team, answered Hale Irwin's faith in him with some of the finest golf of the day in helping the United States to a 7 1/2 -2 1/2 lead in the inaugural Presidents Cup matches at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club yesterday.

Haas, at 40 the oldest U.S. team member other than Irwin, teamed with former Wake Forest teammate Scott Hoch (two years behind him in school) for the day's two most one-sided conquests.


They whipped Fulton Allem-David Frost, 6 and 5, in the morning four-ball, and Craig Parry-Tsukasa Watanabe, 4 and 3, in the afternoon foursomes. Haas had six birdies in the morning and closed out the match with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole. dTC The two combined for seven afternoon birdies.

"The whole team had talked about 'swing guys,' players who were straight hitters and consistent," Hoch said. "We wanted to try and get two putts at every hole, so every time they looked up, there were two balls there."


"We both played well in the afternoon, and made four birdies in a row starting at 10," Haas added. "For 28 holes, I don't think we could play any better."

The only deviation came at the sixth tee, where Haas drove off while Hoch was putting on the fifth green. While putting after completion of a hole is permitted, since only one ball is in play, it became a loss-of-hole (the sixth, since the fifth had already been completed) penalty when Haas put a ball in play.

"It was an idiot move; I just didn't think about it," Hoch said.

"After that, I told myself to forget it and just go and contribute . . . we really played well all through that time."

Couples sits down

With 12 players for 10 playing spots, Irwin did not use himself or Loren Roberts in the morning, and sat out Fred Couples and John Huston in the afternoon.

"I had no problem with that," Couples said. "I'll enjoy the afternoon off and come out [today] and probably play both matches."

Couples, who's disk problem in his lower back had forced him to miss 12 weeks of the PGA Tour schedule earlier in the year, admitted to feeling a little stiffness in his back, but said he would ice it and that it should be OK.


Hit and miss

Blaise Cook of Ellicott City was standing to the left of the second green when Jim Gallagher Jr., from the left rough, hit his approach shot to the left. The ball struck Cook squarely on his shoulder and ricocheted onto the green, 15 feet from the cup.

When Davis Love III missed the putt and Mark McNulty holed one from 12 feet for birdie, it sent the International team 2-up at that point. Of the carom shot, Cook said, " . . . and it didn't help us out at all."


In the five morning matches, the 10 United States players totaled 50 birdies plus eagles by Phil Mickelson and Gallagher. . . . In the Love-Couples morning match against Nick Price-Bradley Hughes, the Americans had a better ball of 62 and the opposition, 63. Love (seven) and Couples (seven) had a U.S.-high 14 birdies, followed by Corey Pavin-Jeff Maggert (six each), 12.