Fred Haney, a 21-year-old from Cornelius, Ore., who had recently graduated from the University of Oregon, carded a final-round 1-under-par 70 to claim the 1971 U.S. Amateur Public Links at Papago Golf Course in Phoenix by five strokes over 26-year-old Bob Blomberg, of Alameda, Calif. This was Haney’s second APL appearance and fourth USGA championship – he also had qualified for the 1967 and 1970 U.S. Amateurs. Haney, who qualified for the 1979 and 1980 U.S. Opens, turned professional after his APL victory and won a number of regional events in the Pacific Northwest, but never earned his PGA Tour card. He went into commercial real estate in 1981 and eventually regained his amateur status before turning professional again in 1988. For the past 15 years, Haney, now 65, has been a teaching professional at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha, Ore.
What do you remember about that week in Phoenix?
It was hot. I believe the third round was one of the hottest days on record in Phoenix. It was 120 degrees [and] it was brutal. And most of the guys carried their own bags. There weren’t many caddies. I carried mine. It was tough.
How did the USGA handle the extreme conditions with the players?
They didn’t have water stations due to the heat. There was [concern] that the water would get warm, so we got our water from the clubhouse. [Officials] came around in carts and offered cold, wet towels to put them over your head and around your neck. That really helped.
Your play in the final round was equally as sizzling. You were tied after 54 holes with Blomberg, but shot a 70 to win by five. What happened?
I started out the round, I remember, just being conservative. I just wanted to make pars and not do anything stupid. I wasn’t going to gamble. I just wanted to be close to the lead. I might have made the turn at one under, had a couple-shot lead. I thought this wasn’t bad and I’ll keep doing this. Blomberg kind of fell down [and] it became a wider margin at the end. He bogeyed 17 and I birdied 18.
Was there a key moment to the round?
I missed the green on 17 and it was a foot into the rough, but only 25 feet from the hole. My ball was nestled down. It was some of the most brutal rough on the whole course. I just wanted to hack out and see what I could do. I think I had a two- or three-shot lead at the time, but I didn’t know how anyone else was doing. There wasn’t a leaderboard out there. I just wanted to keep playing and hope for the best. I hacked out to about three feet and I made the par.
How much did winning help your career going forward?
It certainly did wonders for my confidence. It cemented my thoughts that I can turn professional.
At the time, APL competitors had their travel expenses taken care of by the local committee. How much did that assist you?
That was one of the neat things about it. My parents weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of money for me to travel around the country to play in amateur events. That really helped. Bob Allard and Mike Braman were two other [Public Links] guys from Portland. It would have been impossible for Mike Braman to go and qualify for a U.S. Amateur. I just remember how much [those expenses] meant to the guys who didn’t have the bucks to go play in the U.S. Amateur and events like that. It gave a lot of guys a chance to play.
Speaking of Allard, he claimed the APL the following year. Were you close friends?
That’s an amazing trivia question. Two players from the same course [Rock Creek] to win the same championship in back-to-back years. That’s hard to replicate. We both grew up at the same public golf course in Cornelius (Forest Hills). And about the same time we both went to college, we moved over to Rock Creek, independently of each other. I went to the University of Oregon. He went to Oregon State. We were friendly [college] rivals.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.