Bill Haas didn’t have high expectations for himself this week. Coming off a long layoff that saw him play his last competitive round at the WGC HSBC Champions in China in early November, Haas was looking to shake off some of the rust and get his 2015 calendar year underway.
Then he went out and won.
“If you would have told me I would have done this last week, I would have laughed at you,” he said.
Haas outlasted what seemed like at times on Sunday the entire 150+ person field to win his second Humana Challenge title at 22-under par. He accomplished that in large part to a final round 67 that saw him fight off golfer after golfer at different points throughout his round.
When he teed off on Sunday, Haas was one of 25 golfers within four shots of the lead. He was in ties at the top sometimes eight deep at different points. Every time he would separate himself there were four more golfers that caught him almost instantly. It was a dog fight right up until the end.
He was in a six way tie on the 16th hole when a birdie putt gave him the outright lead. It seemed that he was finally clear of the field when he took his one shot lead to the 18th tee and all five golfers that were one shot back were in the clubhouse. That was until he hooked his tee shot into the right rough, landing on the top edge of a bunker.
It looked at that point that a 6-way playoff was inevitable as their was no real option for Haas to hit a clean shot out of that lie.
This is Bill Haas we are talking about here though. The same guy that splashed out of the water to 3 feet in a playoff victory in the 2011 Tour Championship. So naturally, not only did he get a clean hit but he set himself up well for his approach shot.
“You got to come up with something,” Haas said. “I easily could have whiffed it, could have chunked it and moved it 5 yards.”
Haas got on the green with his approach shot and two-putted his way to his sixth PGA Tour victory.
If he had faltered there, chaos would have broken lose.
While playing the 18th hole, the driving range at the Palmer course looked more like something you would see on a Thursday at the start of a tournament and not Sunday with the final groups finishing up their rounds.
Instead though, Haas managed par and Charley Hoffman, Brendan Steele, Sung Joon Park, Steve Wheatcroft, and Matt Kuchar all had to settle for runner up finishes.
It was something that Haas had never experienced in his professional golf career.
“I’ve been in a tournament where I’ve been maybe one ahead or tied, but not with five or six guys right behind me knowing that if I dump one in the water, I go from winning to finishing 10th,” Haas said.
Haas wasn’t the only one getting his year started this weekend. Phil Mickelson not only made his 2015 calendar year debut, he made his 2015 season debut. He finished in a tie for 24th at 15-under and said for the most part his week was a success.
“It was a good week to get the year started,” Mickelson said. “Now we’ll see the next two weeks if I can get that fine-tuning done.”
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