It's a change of pace for the middle of football season, with LSU running roughshod over weaklings like Tulane and Mississippi State, but the passing of "Lord Byron" revived thoughts of a great Tiger of another sport and era: Haas.
Haas, who died in 2004, was the NCAA individual champion of 1937, and his LSU team won that year's national championship.
Originally ticketed to play golf at
In the gallery that day was Senator
Huey P. Long, who instantly envisioned the two boys bringing golf glory to his
favorite institution. "Forget your scholarship to
Long was taken aback. "Son, LSU is an Agricultural and Mechanical school. If I moved those cows, the farmers would be very upset."
LSU would eventually buy a course, and the Tigers would win the national golf championship as Haas beat teammate Paul Leslie for the individual title. It was the first time two players from the same school reached the national finals.
'Course, Long wasn't there to see it, having been assassinated two years before.
That was the backdrop to 1945 when Haas, still competing as an amateur, entered the Memphis Invitational. Nelson was having what still could be argued the greatest season in the history of the sport. He not only won 11 straight, but 18 for the year, and he was second in seven other contests. That accomplishment made Haas a historical footnote, though he won 125 amateur tournaments before turning pro.
"I didn't want to wake up at 50 and wonder if I could have won another PGA title."
Not to worry. In his first season,
Haas won the Miami Open, the Long Beach Open, the Portland Open (in a playoff
with Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer), the Peoria Open and the Thunderbird Open in
Unlike today, those victories did not set Haas up for the rest of his life. "Our winnings were anemic," he once recalled, "but our expenses were small."
One footnote to Haas' LSU roots: Years after he was gone, LSU did build a golf course on campus. And it was right where Haas saw the cows grazing in 1933.
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NOTES & QUOTES: If people
thought the reopening of the Superdome was fantastic with the Saints' fairytale
performance against the Falcons, be aware that weekend could have had far more
anticipation and excitement. Think of LSU playing Tulane Saturday at the
Superdome instead of Tiger Stadium, and two days later the NFL's Southern rivals
playing there. It could have happened. LSU was willing to play in
News reporter Jim Varney is the odds-on favorite to take over the LSU sports beat for The Times-Picayune, which has been operating without a regular lead writer all season. A meticulous reporter interested in moving from a hard-news career to sports, Varney is a tireless pursuer of any story he is assigned. He'd be a major plus in the coverage of LSU athletics. …
The best note coming out of the Tiger-Bulldog game is that in the second quarter when LSU built a 35-0 lead, State still hadn't accumulated 25 yards of total offense. At that point, the 'Dogs had 12 yards rushing and 12 yards passing.
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@Bellsouth.net.