GLENVIEW, Ill. - Notable players Jay Haas, Bob Harris and Mike Small are the members of the 15th class of inductees to be enshrined in the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.
The 2013 inductees will be honored at a ceremony celebrating their achievements October 25th at the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame exhibit located at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill.
One of the most consistent players in the history of the PGA Tour, Jay Haas holds the record for most career cuts made on the Tour. Haas, playing for Wake Forest, won the NCAA individual championship in 1975 on a team that Golf World called "the greatest college team of all time." The Wake Forest teams headed by Haas and Curtis Strange won the NCAA team championship in 1974 and 1975.
Born in St. Louis, Mo., Hass, 59, grew up in nearby Belleville, Ill., where he began playing golf at a young age. At 10 years old, he recorded his first hole-in-one playing with his father at Yorktown Golf Course in Belleville, Ill., using a 5-iron from 110 yards. He comes from a distinguished family of golfers including his uncle, 1968 Masters winner and fellow Illinois Golf Hall of Fame Member, Bob Goalby.
After graduating from Belleville West High School in 1972, where he was the Illinois State High School champion his junior year, Haas went on to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., where he competed on the golf team and was named to the NCAA All-America team four consecutive years (1973-1976). He earned All-ACC honors in 1975 and 1976, the first two years it was awarded. Also, in 1975 he received the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to the most outstanding college golfer in the United States.
Following his collegiate career, Haas turned professional in 1976. His first PGA Tour victory came in 1978 at the Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational (now the Farmers Insurance Open). Haas won nine times on the PGA Tour, competed in the Ryder Cup three times (1983, 1995, 2004), played in the Presidents Cup twice (1994, 2003) and was an assistant captain on the 2009 and 2011 Presidents Cup teams. His impressive 592 career cuts made remain a PGA Tour record. His resurgence on the PGA Tour in 2005 earned him the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Haas became eligible to join the Champions Tour in 2004 where he currently has 16 career victories, including three majors: the Senior PGA Championship (2006, 2008) and the Senior Players Championship (2009). He was honored with the Jack Nicklaus Trophy, given to the Champions Tour Player of the Year (2006, 2007), the Arnold Palmer Award for the Champions Tour money winner (2006, 2007) and was the Champions Tour Rookie of the Year in 2005. Haas recently finished tied for second in the 2013 Senior PGA Championship held at Bellerive Country Club, just outside his birth city of St. Louis.
A highly-regarded ambassador for the sport of golf around the world, Haas was honored with the 2004 Payne Stewart Award, presented annually to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and his professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct. In 2006, Haas was named the recipient of the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the USGA in recognition of his distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
Hass and his wife, Janice, live in Greer, S.C., and are parents of sons Jay, Jr., Bill and daughters Winona, Emily and Georgia. His son, Bill, plays on the PGA Tour and captured the 2011 FedEx Cup. He was also an All-American at Wake Forest and, in 2004, won the prestigious Ben Hogan Award, presented annually to the top men's golfer in NCAA Division I, II, III or NAIA.
The first time Bob Harris picked up a golf club, he was instantly addicted. Despite never taking any golf lessons, he became one of the greatest Illinois PGA Professionals to ever play the game. Along the way, he earned NCAA team and individual championships and competed in The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship. In addition to his playing accomplishments, he was also the PGA head golf professional at one of Chicago's most prestigious country clubs.
Born in Vinland, Kan., Harris, 84, was raised in San Jose, Calif., where he began caddying at the age of 12. Since his school, the all boy's San Jose Technical High School, didn't have a golf team, he spent every waking hour at the golf course developing his game on his own.
After four years of consistently shooting under par, he went on to attend San Jose State University, where he competed on the golf team. In 1948, his sophomore year, the team won the NCAA team championship, and Harris was the NCAA individual champion.
Following the 1948 championship season, Harris left San Jose State to accept an assistant golf professional position at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club in Nichols Hills, Okla., and also joined the Oklahoma National Guard. With the Korean War beginning, Harris went into active duty in 1950 and was deployed to Japan. During his two years overseas, he occasionally played golf, and in 1951, finished fourth in the Japan Open.
In 1954, following the war, Harris returned to San Jose, and was soon hired as an assistant golf professional at Edgewater Golf Club in Chicago. Following a short tenure at Edgewater, he earned his membership into the PGA of America and moved on to become an assistant at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Ill. He was named the PGA head golf professional at Sunset Ridge in 1958, a position he held for the next 17 years.
During his time in Illinois, Harris amassed an impressive playing resume. He won the Illinois PGA Match Play Championship a record six consecutive times (1958-1963), the Illinois PGA Championship twice (1959, 1961), the Illinois Open Championship twice (1955, 1956) and numerous local stroke play competitions.
Nationally, Harris competed in The Masters twice (1956, 1961), the U.S. Open seven times (1949, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1968) and the PGA Championship three times (1959-1961). His invitation to compete in The Masters was a result of his outstanding finishes in the 1955 U.S. Open (T21) and 1960 U.S. Open (T15). He was paired with Ben Hogan in the final round (36 holes) of the 1955 U.S. Open, which is regarded by many as the greatest upset in the history of the game after driving range pro Jack Fleck tied Hogan on the final hole in regulation and defeated him in a 18-hole playoff the following day.
Harris is well known for his hot rounds during tournaments. He shot 63 in second round of 1955 Imperial Valley Open, 63 in first round of 1955 Tucson Open and 65 in third round of 1957 Houston Open. At one point in his career, he held nine scoring records at golf courses in the Chicagoland area. He shot a record 59 at Edgewater in 1955 on the par 69 course.
While at Sunset Ridge, Harris took great pride in mentoring his assistants, including former Augusta National Golf Club PGA head golf professional David Spencer. He always provided the highest standard of service to the members and guests, and in 1972, when Sunset Ridge was host to the Western Open, Harris not only played in the event but fulfilled his countless responsibilities as the host golf professional.
Harris left Sunset Ridge after the 1975 season and returned home to northern California where he taught at numerous facilities over the years. Although his days of competing in events ended in his mid-50s, he still has a passion and love for the game of golf.
Harris lives in Tucson, Ariz., and is the father of daughters Heather and Holly.
The most dominant player in Illinois PGA history, Mike Small continues to rewrite the record books of golf in Illinois. His diverse career has taken him from standout golfer at the University of Illinois to the former Nike Tour (Web.com Tour) to the PGA Tour and back to the University of Illinois as the men's head golf coach. Along the way he has achieved honors and recognition on the local and national level that has never been accomplished in the 97 year history of the Illinois PGA. He is considered by many to be the greatest golfer the state of Illinois has ever produced.
Born in Aurora, Ill., Small, 47, grew up downstate in Danville, 37 miles east of Champaign. An outstanding multi-sport athlete, he earned four letters in golf and two in basketball at Danville High School. He chose to attend the University of Illinois in Champaign, where he was a teammate of current PGA Tour star Steve Stricker.
During his time at Illinois, Small was an integral part of the 1988 Big Ten Championship team and the same season, finished second behind Stricker for the individual Big Ten title. Also in 1988, he was named to the All-Big Ten team and earned his Bachelors degree in Business Administration.
Small turned professional in 1990, competing in mini-tours across the country. In 1996, he became a member of the Nike Tour and a member of The PGA of America. The following season, Small won the Monterey Open and Cleveland Open and finished in the top 15 in earnings on the Nike Tour, which earned him his PGA Tour card for the 1998 season.
After a couple years grinding it out on the Tour, Small returned to the University of Illinois, accepting the men's head golf coach position. Under his leadership, the Fighting Illini have become a national powerhouse.
During his tenure, the team has captured five Big Ten titles (2009-2013) and competed in eight NCAA National Championships (2002, 2003, 2008-2013). Small has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year six times (2002, 2009-2013), and this year's team recently finished as the NCAA runner-up after losing to Alabama in the championship match.
In addition to his coaching duties, Small has remained active in competition on both the local and national stages. Locally, he captured the Illinois PGA Championship a record nine times (2001, 2003-2010), the Illinois Open Championship four times (2003, 2005-2007) and the 2007 Illinois PGA Match Play Championship.
He is the only person in the history of the Illinois PGA to win both the Illinois PGA Championship and Illinois Open Championship in the same year - a feat he accomplished four times. In 2007, he won the first three of the four Illinois PGA major championships. Due to his coaching duties he couldn't participate in the final major of the season (The Illinois PGA Player's Championship).
Nationally, Small has won the PGA Professional National Championship three times (2005, 2009, 2010), tying Larry Gilbert as the only three-time winners of the prestigious event. He has been honored as the PGA of America Player of the Year three times (2006, 2007, 2010) and is a four-time member of the United States PGA Cup team. He has competed in eight PGA Championships, making the cut three times (2005, 2007, 2011) and played in three U.S. Open Championships. He finished as the low club professional in the PGA Championship in 2007 and 2011. Small is the only member of the Illinois PGA to win the PGA Professional National Championship.
Small's family has a rich history of athletic success at the University of Illinois. His father, Bill, was captain of the 1963 Big Ten Champion men's basketball team. Bill earned All-Big Ten honors during his Illini basketball career. His younger brother, Andy, was an infielder on the 1990 Big Ten Champion baseball squad. Both sons followed in their father footsteps by serving as captains of their respective teams.
Small and his wife, Ann, live in Champaign, Ill., and are the parents of sons Will and Wyatt.
About the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame:
The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame was created in 1989 by the Illinois PGA Foundation in an effort to recognize and honor those individuals who have contributed to the rich history and tradition of the game of golf in Illinois. Plaques, trophies, photographs, and other related memorabilia make up a first-class tribute to the men and women who have played significant roles in all aspects of the game, from teaching to playing, course design and construction to administration and inspiration. These individuals represent not only an impressive collection of accomplishments in golf, but the true spirit and integrity that make the game great. The current roster includes some of the most influential contributors to the growth of the game throughout Illinois and the world. Representatives from Illinois' allied golf associations serve on its selection committee. The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame exhibit is located on the main level of the clubhouse at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill.
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