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being a pro. Every time you play bad you question what you’re doing out there. And you’re always looking over your shoulder, having to fight off new guns coming on Tour.” At peace with his decision, Haag in 2011 won nine tournaments, qualified for three USGA events and finished as low amateur at the Senior British Open. As good as he was playing, Sunday at Walton Heath affirmed for Haag that he has chosen the right career path. A third round 68 put him within striking distance of the lead. Standing on the first tee, in front of a packed grandstand—Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman were in the


In his first two years as a rabbit Niger tried to play his way into 27 events, and succeeded only twice.


group in front—Haag says, “That’s the most nervous I have ever been in my entire life. I was literally shaking.” He drop-kicked a 3-wood that luckily went straight down the fairway but went on to shoot 77 and fade to 39th place. “My hat’s off to those guys who can perform under that kind of pressure,” he says. “Not everyone can do it. That’s the real separator in tournament golf.” One of Haag’s predecessors on the


34 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2014 Six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag began gearing up for the Champions Tour in his late 40s.


NCGA honor roll has discovered how unaccommodating the Senior Tour can be to the dream of a second-chance pro career. Bob Niger was the NCGA’s Player of the Year in 2005 and ’06, part of a long, successful amateur career that has been bracketed by struggles playing for pay. He had turned pro at age 24 but after failing at PGA Tour Q-School three years running, he decided to go to work in the straight world, for a family business that does commercial and residential window tinting. But even back in his mid-20s, Niger was already thinking seriously about the Senior Tour. He took out a legal pad and made a list of the fam- ily, financial and golf-related goals he would have to achieve to make another


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