Call it destiny or luck, but also call Haas the FedExCup champion

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Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Everything came together Sunday for Bill Haas, who won the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup.
September 25, 2011
Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor

ATLANTA -- Maybe there is some sort of destiny to winning the FedExCup. After all, you don't hit the grandstands with a tee shot or find the water with an approach shot in the most important -- and certainly most rewarding -- 30 minutes of your golfing life and expect to come out $11.44 million richer.

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Certainly Bill Haas received a few huge breaks on his way to winning both the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and the FedExCup at East Lake on Sunday. The points scenarios, so unlikely to happen at the start of the week, played out perfectly in his favor. The two late bogeys he made in regulation didn't come back to haunt him. Those two "horrendous" shots in the sudden-death playoff against Hunter Mahan didn't eliminate him.

No wonder when it was over, Haas -- still trying to come to grips with the sequence of events that steered him to golf's biggest prize -- said: "I can't say the word fortunate or lucky or whatever enough."

But destiny or luck or fortune doesn't explain it all. Those things simply served to give Haas the opportunity. He still had to supply what will go down as golf's most dramatic shot of the year, a shot worthy of winning the FedExCup.

It came at the par-4 17th, the second playoff hole. Haas' approach shot dribbled into the water hazard to the left of the green. Mahan, meanwhile, was on the green, 25 feet from the pin. Huge advantage for Mahan. Haas thought to himself: "Well, there it goes." As in, there goes his chances of winning.

When Haas reached his ball, though, he realized he had a shot. "An all-or-nothing shot," he called it. The ball was only halfway submerged. Haas decided to treat it like a bunker shot and blast out. With his right foot in the water, that's what he did.

The ball came out perfectly. Incredibly, it even had some spin on it, going by the pin and suddenly stopping less than three feet away. Haas would save par. Mahan would miss his birdie putt. "I couldn't buy a putt today," Mahan would later say.

On to the third playoff hole, the par-3 18th. A few minutes later, when Haas managed par from the fringe while Mahan failed to get up-and-down from the bunker, the 29-year-old son of Jay Haas won for the third time in his career and the first time this year, having lost two previous playoffs during the regular season.

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Final standings
With his victory at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Bill Haas won the FedExCup. See where everyone finished in the final standings by clicking here.

He also won the FedExCup -- although he didn't know it at the time. Haas said he was aware that the money was on the line, but he didn't realize for sure he had won it until he saw both the TOUR Championship trophy and the FedExCup trophy "and there was no other player" around to claim one of them.

He looked at his wife to confirm. She nodded his head. The $10 million bonus was his, as well as the $1.44 million that goes to the tournament winner.

"It's not worth the stress," Haas said when asked if he was thinking about the money. "I was just trying to win the golf tournament. And actually, even more than that, I was trying to hit good shots in the moment."

The fact that Haas was even in position to do those things speaks volumes about the unpredictable nature of golf, and the crazy way that leaderboards can fall into place.

For instance, Haas would not have won the FedExCup had Luke Donald finished solo third. Instead, Donald finished tied for third because K.J. Choi saved par with a 7-foot putt at the 18th. Aaron Baddeley would later join Choi and Donald at that position. A year ago, Donald was second to Jim Furyk at East Lake.

"It would be tough to lose by a shot again like I did last year," Donald said after his round but before things were sorted out. Unfortunately for the world's No. 1-ranked player, that's exactly what happened.

And Haas would not have won the FedExCup had Webb Simpson finished in a two-way tie for 18th. But Simpson, who entered the week ranked No. 1 in FedExCup points, tied for 22nd after shooting a 3-over 73. The two-time TOUR winner was hanging out with his wife and child in the clubhouse when he realized his FedExCup hopes were dashed.

Haas' amazing par save

On the second playoff hole, No. 17 at East Lake, Bill Haas saves par from a greenside water hazard.

"If I come up short, it stinks," Simpson said, "but the other finishes aren't too shabby."

At least a half-dozen players had realistic shots to win the FedExCup down the stretch on Sunday. Jason Day, in a furious all-or-nothing approach, ended up bogeying his final two holes. Had he managed par on both, he would've been in the playoff with Haas and Mahan.

"Anything other than a win was going to be disappointing for me," Day said.

With the points projections seeming to change with each shot, Haas walked off the 72nd hole thinking that his playing partner, Donald, had done enough to win the FedExCup. But once everybody had finished their fourth rounds, the dust finally settled. Haas and Mahan would be playing for all the titles.

Haas promptly drove his tee shot at the first playoff hole, the 18th, toward the grandstands. But he got a fortunate break. The ball bounced out of the stands and landed in the trampled-down rough. Haas hit a chip shot to within 12 feet and made the clutch par putt.

"I think the up-and-down on the first playoff hole is going to get overlooked," Haas said. "That one was equally good, if not better, than the one out of the water."

But it's the splash shot that everyone will remember. Luck had given him a good enough lie to make that shot. Haas supplied the rest.

His opponent could only watch in disbelief.

"It seemed like," Mahan said, "he was destined to win this week."

Destiny indeed tapped Bill Haas on the shoulder. But Haas had to do his part.

And because he did, he has two new trophies to bring home -- and a little more cash in his bank account.

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