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The battle continues

Defending Toshiba champ Jay Haas and Loren Roberts have been familiar foes on the Champions Tour.

February 26, 2008|By Steve Virgen

There has been no blood, no cuts or bruises seen, but for the past two years, followers of the Champions Tour have witnessed a fight for the ages.

In one corner, there’s Jay Haas. He could be called the champ. But that doesn’t necessarily make the opponent, Loren Roberts, the challenger. He’s a champ in his own right.

The two have gone toe-to-toe with regard to the Charles Schwab Cup, the season-long points program designed to recognize the Tour’s leading player. The Schwab Cup winner pockets a $1 million annuity.

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They’ve also slugged it out at various tournaments and battled for the money title and Player of the Year award. In 2006, Haas swept the three categories. Last year, he was two for three as Roberts won the Schwab Cup.

At the Toshiba Classic, the fight comes to the Newport Beach Country Club, March 7-9 (the week starts with pro-am March 3).

“I think we’ve enjoyed each other and certainly enjoyed the competition the last couple of years,” said Haas, the Toshiba Classic defending champion. “Coming down the stretch the last two years and, really, not the only two guys who could win the Schwab Cup but really at the forefront of it. That was a pretty neat thing for me, certainly. I was glad for Loren last year. The year before, he was 4 1/2 feet away from winning it and then he does last year, so good for him.”

Roberts let the Schwab Cup slip from his fingers in 2006, when he didn’t nail the final hole of the season, a 4 1/2 -foot putt for par. How could that be? A strange ending for a man many call, “The Boss of the Moss,” for his putting expertise.

However, Roberts responded in 2007, even though Haas opened the year with a hot start, winning the first four events.

After winning the Charles Schwab Cup, Roberts said it was satisfying because he was able to finish it off. He dealt with the disappointment, which was what motivated him.

“It’s been great,” Roberts said of the past two years going up against Haas. “I would always consider Jay a friend. I wouldn’t call it a rivalry. It’s been fun. You would think it would keep on going to this year, but there’s just more great guys in the show.”

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