By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Bill Haas isn't one to live in the past.
Of course, he'll always remember seeing the 45-foot birdie putt that he was just trying to get close drop decisively into the cup. When Phil Mickelson couldn't hole his bunker shot and Keegan Bradley missed a 15-footer to tie, Haas had earned the fourth title of his career in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open.
"I mean, how many times have I three-putted from 40 feet? Plenty of times," Haas said on Wednesday as he marveled at the memory. "... For it to go in, something I'll never forget, and playing that hole, certainly it's a good feeling."
As luck would have it, Haas tees off on that same 10th hole at 10:11 a.m. ET in the first round of his title defense -- playing with Mickelson and Bradley, no less. And if he should bogey? Well, let's just say he won't be dwelling on the past anymore.
"It's what have you done for me lately in this game," Haas said with a smile.
And lately, Haas has been playing quite well. He returns to Riviera on the heels of top-10 finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open. The 30-year-old has got some momentum, and he'd like nothing better than to carry it through the year, as well as this week.
That's something Haas learned he needs to do better after last year's playoff win at Riviera.
In his next 15 starts, the former Wake Forest All-American only had one more top-10 finish, a tie for seventh at the Wyndham Championship. He went into the BMW Championship, the penultimate event in the FedExCup Playoffs, ranked No. 28 and when he closed with a 78 there the reigning FedExCup champ was eliminated from the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
To say Haas was extremely disappointed not to get the chance to defend his title probably would have been an understatement. At the same time, though, it was a motivating factor for 2013.
"Obviously my goal last year was to make it back to THE TOUR Championship, and had such a nice start here on the West Coast," Haas said. "To basically fail at that in the Playoffs; I got a way from the game a little bit, took a break. And I went and played overseas a couple of events and felt like I was, okay, you can still play this game, you're not terrible and all the things that I was telling myself.
"Just had some motivation from those events overseas and really just wanted to start the year off nice. ... This is a great week to hopefully have everything start clicking."
Some players might have headed to the nearest sports psychologist for an attitude adjustment after the disappointing finish at Crooked Stick. But Haas sought the counsel of his father, Jay, who won nine times on the PGA TOUR and has another 16 titles on the Champions Tour, and instructor Billy Harmon, a long-time family friend.
"(My dad) always tells me what you're feeling now I've felt 10 times that and you're going to feel it again in the future," Haas said. "If it's a sports psychologist telling me that I'm like, well, how do you know?
"... There's other guys they can tell me what they think but they don't care. And my dad I know loves me and cares about me and knows how I'm feeling."
Haas said his father's advice wasn't technical -- after all, the son has proven he can play with the best. But patience and maintaining a positive outlook is key to shaking off the occasional bogey and moving forward in the game.
"I think more than anything he wants me to conduct myself better at certain times -- body language, emotions, just control them better," Haas said. "... It's something I'm working on/just doing it."
And focused on getting better every week.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson teed off within nine minutes of each other on opposite nines at TPC Scottsdale on Friday.
They'll be seeing a lot of each other on Saturday, though, after Haas played his way in the final group with a bogey-free 64 that left him 13 under and four strokes behind Mickelson. Keegan Bradley, who is tied with Brandt Snedeker at 12 under, joins the two on the first tee at 12:50 p.m. ET.
"They're good guys and very good players, so it's always fun to be up there near the top," said Haas, who happened to beat the two in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open last year.
Mickelson appeared to be pulling away, though, when he got to 19 under after he drove the 17th green and two-putted for birdie. A water-logged double bogey at the 18th hole, though, made the gap much more manageable.
"Obviously Phil is playing very well," Haas said. "Obviously we would need him to do that on 18, and we need him to do more stuff like that for us to catch him. I don't think it's that big of a speed bump for him. He'll make a lot of birdies.
"But we all know the way the course is playing, if there's no wind on the weekend, you've just got to keep making birdies."
Haas has made his share, too. He started on the back nine Friday, birdied the first two holes and went on to make the turn in 30. The front nine wasn't as generous but a 14-footer at the seventh hole propeled Haas into sole possession of second.
"I'm very pleased with my two days," Haas said. "... (The highlight was) just getting off to a nice start, birdied 10 and 11 right out of the gate, so that kind of frees you up a little bit."
Haas said he became aware of Mickelson's surge when he saw the scoreboard by the sixth green after he putted out for par. Mickelson had just stiffed an 8-iron to 4 feet for an eagle at No. 17 to get to 17 under and Haas trailed by five again.
In a wierd way, the knowledge was a good thing for Haas.
"I just remember thinking that maybe he wasn't going as low today, and then I looked up and saw that he was 6 under for the day," Haas said. "Just made me basically focus on me actually more than anything and just say, well, you can't do anything about him. That's how you have to do it. One shot at a time, I guess."
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Mickelson flirted with the PGA TOUR's 36-hole scoring record on Friday before making a water-logged double bogey on the 18th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
The two-time Waste Management Phoenix Open champion is right where he wants to be, though --- alone at 17 under after Friday's 65, four strokes ahead of his nearest competitor, Bill Haas. Mickelson has a two-day total of 125, which ties the midway mark at TPC Scottsdale set by Mark Calcavecchia in his 2001 victory.
Haas made up ground with a 64 in the second round while Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker are tied at 12 under, another stroke off the pace. Bradley shot a 63 while the reigning FedExCup champion shot 66.
Snedeker and Haas came to Phoenix with momentum, too, after tying for second and ninth at last week's Farmers Insurance Open. Mickelson, on the other hand, was searching for form after finishing T37 and T51 in his first two starts.
After rounds of 60 and 65 before an adoring crowd, Arizona State's favorite son certainly appears to have found it.
That said, Mickelson was obviously disappointed with his finish on Friday. But at the same time, he could see an upside as he contemplated a weekend of competition he said would be a "shootout."
"I think it's very possible that's going to help me because it's got me refocused, that I cannot ease up on a single shot," Mickelson said. "... These guys are going to make a lot of birdies and I've got to get after it and cannot make those kinds of mistakes.
"Hopefully it'll help me refocus for tomorrow's round and come out and shoot something low."
Mickelson, Haas and Bradley will play together in the final group on Saturday. The three have history together -- Haas beat the other two in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open 50 weeks ago after Bradley and Mickelson both birdied the 72nd hole to force sudden death.
Not to mention, MickMickelson and Bradley teamed for three emotionally-charged wins at the most recent Ryder Cup. Mickelson played with Haas on the last Presidents Cup in Australia, too.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's a been-there, done-that feel to the top of the leaderboard at the Waste Management Phoenix Open right now.
Phil Mickelson has opened a three-stroke advantage at 15 under after making four birdies in his last six holes. Keegan Bradley has already posted 12 under after shooting 63 on Friday but Bill Haas has gotten to that number, as well, and he has seven holes to go.
The same three players figured prominently into the outcome at the Northern Trust Open 52 weeks ago. Haas closed with a 69 at Riviera and ended up beating Mickelson and Bradley, who played in the day's final group, in a playoff that both birdied the 72nd hole to make.
A final pairing featuring the three would be interesting. But a decision on whether the third round will be contested in threesomes or twosomes won't be made until tournament officials see how many players survive the cut. There are currently 74 players are 4 under or better.
Brandt Snedeker, who is playing the opposite nine, was also tied with Haas and Bradley until he made double bogey at the par-3 12th hole. Snedeker, who tied for second last week and shared third at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, put his tee shot in the back greenside bunker and left his second one there as well, then proceeded to miss a 6-footer for bogey.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Bill Haas had a 2012 season of highs and lows -- winning for the fourth time in three years but missing a chance to become the first FedExCup champion to return to East Lake when he dropped from 28th to 32nd in the standings after the BMW Championship. Two top 10s in three offseason events, though, took some of the sting away and gave Haas momentum for 2013.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Haas closed with a 69, then waited on the range as Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley both birdied the 18th hole at Riviera to force a three-way playoff. The former Wake Forest standout ended the proceedings with a birdie on the second playoff hole. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: After winning the FedExCup in 2011, it would only be natural if Haas was a little disappointed in his 2012 season. There's no reason for any regrets. Haas was a tournament winner and ranked in the top 100 of every meaningful statistic. It says something about your game when you win $2.3 million and that's a drop-off from the previous season. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Began the year much like he put the finishing touches on his previous season en route to the FedExCup title in 2011, but after a playoff victory at the Northern Trust Open, he recorded only one more top 15 the rest of the way. Made only 23 starts, a career low in seven seasons. With that in the rearview mirror, it's time to piggyback him again in salary gamers at $2.349 million. He turned 30 in 2012. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
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2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finish||1st||Northern Trust Open|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 18
Rounds played: 78
Top-10 finishes: 3
Money List rank: 33rd
Driving distance: 66th
Driving accuracy: 56th
Greens in regulation: 93rd
Strokes gained-putting: 74th
Scoring average: 52nd
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. – Bill Haas was hoping to be the first reigning FedExCup champion to defend his title at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Instead, just like all the previous defending champs, Haas will not be at East Lake when the FedExCup is decided.
Tiger Woods (2007), Vijay Singh (2008), Woods again (2009) and Jim Furyk (2010) were the previous FedExCup champs who either did not play in the Playoffs or did not qualify for the the TOUR Championship the year after their win.
“Honestly, it seems like the same old story, something I’ve been doing a lot this year,” a disappointed Haas said after his round. “Under the gun haven’t been able to get it done. It’s something I’ve got to address and get better.”
Haas hit arguably the shot of the year in 2011 when he blasted out of shallow water to save par at the 17th hole in a playoff against Hunter Mahan at the TOUR Championship. Haas then went on to beat Mahan in the playoff and claim the FedExCup title.
Haas also had a clutch putt this year to claim the Northern Trust Open in a playoff against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.
But he’s frustrated with his play under pressure, especially this week.
“When there’s some pressure and there’s a pressure situation, I’ve got to be able to bear down and shoot a good number and not just blow up,” he said. “I seem to do it often. It’s frustrating. …
“When nerves are an issue and under the gun, I’ve got to be better -- and right now I’m far from competitive.”
CARMEL, Ind. – It appears Bill Haas will not get a chance to defend his FedExCup title at East Lake.
Haas bogeyed four of his last five holes to shoot a 6-over 78. He finished at 3 under for the tournament and a tie for 45th. That leaves him projected at 33rd in points after he entered the week ranked 28th.
If Haas does not advance to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, he would be continue the string of reigning FedExCup champions failing to make it to East Lake the following year. No FedExCup winner has ever advanced to defend at East Lake.
UPDATE (5:01 p.m. ET): Haas is officially eliminated now that Ryan Moore has completed his round and will finish ahead of both Haas and Kyle Stanley in the standings.
CARMEL, Ind. – Defending FedExCup champ Bill Haas is finished with his first nine holes and right now he’s projected on the FedExCup cutline at No. 30.
Haas is 3 over for his round and has dropped to 6 under for the tournament. He entered the week ranked 28th in points.
Following a second-round 64, Bill Haas reflects on his play in the 2012 BMW Championship with Doug Bell from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- Ten days ago, Bill Haas fired an unofficial 60 during a charity event in Oregon.
On Friday, when the stakes were much higher, Haas tied the course record at Crooked Stick with a 64 that lifted him into a tie for ninth at the midway point of the BMW Championship. He’s four strokes off the pace set by Vijay Singh.
Haas made seven birdies, an eagle and dropped just one shot to par as he moved up 42 spots on the leaderboard. He attributed the surge to a red-hot putter which is a nice complement when a player is tied for third in greens in regulation through 36 holes.
The 24 putts Haas used in the second round were nine fewer than he took Thursday. He ranks ninth in strokes gained putting overall (gaining 4.370 on the field on Friday) and he's tied for first in distance of putts made.
"I hit it pretty similar yesterday, just couldn't get the putter going, and today it was hot," Haas said. "I made actually two nice 10-footers for par and one for bogey. If you don't make those and I don't make a couple others, it's the same old story, 2 under, 1 under par.
“It's nice to see some putts go in, and you're going to have to do it. They're going so low out here. The course is just prime for scoring. Happy to shoot a good number."
Haas might have owned the course record had it not been for that bogey at the 17th. He rolled in birdie putts of 6, 9 and 8 feet in his first five holes, then made an 11-footer for eagle at No. 9. He followed with an 8-footer at the 10th, a 19-footer at the 13th, two-putted No. 15 from 27 feet and finished off with a 27-footer at the 16th.
"Really the eagle at 9 got me going and made some nice ones on the back," Haas said.
Haas, who won the Northern Trust Open earlier this year, would like to carry the momentum he gained on Friday into the weekend. The defending FedExCup champion is battling to maintain his spot in the top 30 so he can play at East Lake again.
After opening with a 71, Haas, who came into the week ranked 28th in the FedExCup, found himself on the outside looking in. He's gained a spot now, though, and wants to continue the trend.
"The truth is if I have a good weekend, I get to play at East Lake, and if I don't, I don't,” he said. “That's just the way it is, and I wish I could be that relaxed out there on the course about it, but I have to keep telling myself that to just go play the game, let it come to me, and if it works out, great.
“If not, it's still been a good year."
Editor’s note: Bill Haas, the reigning FedExCup champion, is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM through the Playoffs. This is his fifth installment.
NORTON, Mass. -- I'm at TPC Boston this week for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which is the second event in the FedExCup Playoffs. I missed the cut at The Barclays last weekend and I dropped from 21st to 29th in the standings. So I know I need two good weeks to get back to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. The pressure is on.
After I missed the cut at Bethpage last Friday, I headed back to South Carolina. My dad and I were going to play in the Umpqua Bank Challenge in Aloha, Ore., and I knew he was heading out on Sunday night so that way we could go together. It added an extra leg of flying but I figured it would be nice to get two extra nights in my own bed. Plus, I was able to play one round at home one day with my dad before we left. He's usually the guy I go to for swing advice and all that. So it was a good pit stop, I guess -- changing new tires and all that -- because these next two weeks are so important.
Mostly, Dad just said little things to try to give me confidence. He looked at my ball position, my alignment, how my swing looked, everything, and sometimes all it takes is one little key. We'll see. We'll see this week. I've played at TPC Boston before and I've had decent tournaments here before so I am certainly just looking for some good finishes.
We had a great time at the Umpqua Bank Challenge, too. We shot 9 under at The Reserve on Monday, which was pretty good, but we really got going in the second round. I think we birdied the first 13 holes and then eagled No. 14. We didn't make a par until the 15th hole and ended up shooting 17 under for a two-day total of 26 under. We beat Scott McCarron and Steve Elkington by eight strokes.
I was pleased with the way I played. I made 10 birdies and an eagle on my own ball and shot 60. Of course, it was unofficial because I picked up one hole. Still, 60 is my lowest score ever – I shot it once in an amateur tournament years ago at Niagra Falls and I did it back at home, too. So it was really fun. I've only been able to play with my dad a couple of times as a partner and we had a ball. Obviously, it's fun to want to make a putt for yourself but then, really wanting to make it for your dad and your team, is even better. We both played pretty good, too. The last day, obviously, I made a lot of birdies but he made some, as well. He probably would have shot 65 on his own ball. And the first day it was the same kind of deal.
The Reserve course was certainly shorter and less challenging than what we have here at TPC Boston. But if anything you take confidence from making putts so hopefully that will tie into this week. I had a good start today in the pro-am when I shot 63 so I hope I can ride that momentum into the tournament -- and the rest of the Playoffs. Wish me luck!