Bill Haas blew off the media and autograph seekers after a Saturday double-bogey finish in the third round at East Lake, likely thinking he blew his chances of winning the TOUR Championship, the FedEx Cup and a Presidents Cup bid.
Then a playoff, a par out of the lake in the second playoff hole and a five footer for $11.4 million on the third playoff hole in Sunday’s final round of the TOUR Championship and Haas’s first win in 2011.
“It was all or nothing there,” Haas said of the third shot out of the water. “It was very lucky.”
Haas came into the TOUR Championship 25th out of 30 players and had little chance of winning the FedEx Cup and then after finishing regulation with a bogey on the 18th hole, the likelihood the Wake Forest grad could win were diminished, but when Hunter Mahan could not make a birdie on the final three holes, Hass would be in his third playoff of the season, unfortunately with a record of 0-2 at the Bob Hope Classic and The Greenbrier Classic.
“Last week I had a terrible finish on Sunday,” Haas said of his back nine 42. “A terrible back nine, and tried not to let that get me down. Just tried to tell myself try and put yourself in that same situation and try to prove to yourself that you can handle it. Even with all that said, I bogeyed two of the last three. Fortunately I made some birdies and was able to do that. Just tried to get in that moment more often. It just happened.”
Haas waited until Mahan made par at the 18th and the two, close in age and played against each other in junior golf would fight for $11.4 million.
Both players showed their nerves on the tee shot of the first playoff hole, missing the green on the par 3, 18th hole. Both got up and down and then went to the 17th, a difficult par 4, that has water down the entire left side of the hole, that was the water that Haas would find on his second shot and the water he would hit a wedge out of to two feet for one of the more miraculous pars ever in the playoffs.
“I think my 3‑iron at the Bob Hope for my first tour win was pretty good,” Haas said. “ I still think about that one, even when I’m over a 3‑iron sometimes I say, you’ve done this one before. I think the up‑and‑down on the first playoff hole is going to get overlooked. That one was equally good if not better than the one out of the water. If I don’t make that 12‑footer down the hill, we’re not even talking about this water shot. I was lucky that it was a shot that I had to do something. I didn’t have to guess, so it wasn’t like should I bump‑and‑run it or should I putt it or whatever. I had a shot I had to hit, and I hit it. In that mindset I felt less nervous over that one than I did some other ones, but I won’t forget it, that’s for sure.”
Now the question is will Haas be Fred Couples selection on Tuesday for the last spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team?
“I’m not going to say it gets me to Australia,” Haas said. “It definitely puts me in the talk up there with some of the guys that everybody has been talking about. I did what I could do.”
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.